In a moving gesture, Brazil football icon Ronaldinho has offered to come out of retirement to play for Chapecoense as the club struggles to rebuild in the wake of the tragic plane crash in Colombia on Monday that killed the majority of its team and coaches.
According to reports, the former Argentinian star Juan Roman Riquelme might also join Ronaldinho in offering to play for the club – for free.
In a stunning playing career, Ronaldinho won numerous honors and distinctions, including the 2002 World Cup, while Riquelme was capped 51 times by Argentina and named Player of the Year four times.
Though no discussions have taken place yet, Ronaldinho’s brother and agent, Roberto Assis, confirmed that the soccer legend is ready to help out the club in any way possible. “It is a very difficult time,” he told Globo Esporte. “Later on, if there is a contact, we can talk. I can only say that we are here and we want to help. He [Ronaldinho] fits the profile, can be the right guy. But the moment is to help families and it would be wrong to create expectations for now. As Brazilians, we feel involved. We are together.”
Only three of the football club’s players survived the plane crash that claimed 71 lives, while the fourth footballer to be pulled out of the wreckage alive, Danilo, died shortly after being taken to the hospital.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino will be attending the funerals of the Chapecoense players on Friday, and the new UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin is one of the many who have sent their condolences. He also stated that next week’s Champion’s League and Europe League games will observe a one-minute silence before kickoff to honor the memories of the deceased Chapecoense players. Also, all players attending the games will be requested to wear black armbands.
“European football is united in expressing its deepest sympathy to Chapecoense, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), CONMEBOL and the families of all the victims following this week’s air disaster,” Ceferin said in statement on uefa.org.“This tragedy has shaken the world of football, and we would like to send our support to all of those affected by it.”