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3 Air disasters that shook the football world

Vichai Srivaddanapraba will always live in the hearts of the Leicester fans
Vichai Srivaddanapraba will always live in the hearts of the Leicester fans
Abhishek Arora

It is always heartwrenching when an air disaster occurs. The sporting world has also lost a lot of lives in aerial accidents. Plane/Helicopter crashes are devastating as there are many who get affected by it and the chances of survival are also really low as compared to accidents on the road.

There have been times when entire teams and club staff lost their lives in air disasters. The most recent involved the loss of Leicester City FC owner Vichai Srivaddanapraba. The accident took place on October 27.

The helicopter had just cleared the King Power Stadium but came down soon after due to a technical snag and killed 5 on board. Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare - two members of Vichai's staff also lost their lives. Pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza were also not spared and left their family and friends devastated.

The Foxes historically lifted the coveted Premier League trophy for the first time ever in 2016 under the ownership of Vichai. The news of the crash shook the entire football fraternity across the globe.

In this article, we take a look at aircraft disasters (besides the one involving Vichai) in which footballers and staff lost their lives.


#3 Chapecoense football team (28 November 2016)

Rescuers search for survivors from the wreckage
Rescuers search for survivors from the wreckage

Bolivian charter airline LaMia was ferrying players of the Brazilian club Real Chapecoense in an Avro RJ85 aircraft to Medellin in Columbia, where they were scheduled to play the Copa Sudamericana final.

It was the first time the club of the region had reached the final. Out of the 77 people on board, three players (out of 22), one crew member (out of 4), and two passengers survived while the rest tragically lost their lives.

Pilot error has been blamed for the accident. Fuel exhaustion and electrical problems were listed as the cause and the inability of the pilot to declare an emergency.

Also Read: Plane carrying Brazillian football team Chapecoense crashes in Colombia

After failing to get the emergency landing, the aircraft crashed when it hit one of the crests of a ridge of Cerro Gordo, a mountain range in the region.

#2 Torino football team (May 4, 1949)

The Grande Torino
The Grande Torino

Superga air disaster is one of the most horrifying incidents in the history of football. The aeroplane crash wiped out the entire Torino football team.

The Grande Torino ('Grande 'simply due to their exceptional performances during the time) were on their way home from Lisbon after playing a friendly match with S.L Benfica in the Fiat G.212 aircraft of Italian airlines.

The team which perished had already been named the winners of Serie A that year. Many of the players were also an important part of Italy's national team.

All 31 on board lost their lives as the plane crashed into an embankment of the Basilica of Superga. A million people took to the streets of Turin in order to bid their farewell to the players on the day of their funeral.

This incident shook other Italian players to the extent that players of the Italian national team travelled by ship to the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil next year.

#1 Manchester United (February 6, 1958)

The site of the Munich Air Disaster, Inset - Manchester United players (Image credits - The Sun)
The site of the Munich Air Disaster, Inset - Manchester United players (Image credits - The Sun)

The Munich air disaster is dubbed as one of the most horrific accidents in the history of association football. There were 44 people present on board but only 21 survived the crash.

Also present on the plane was the Manchester United football team or the youthful "Busby Babes," as they were known at the time due to the average age of players being just 24.

The team was returning from the city of Belgrade, having successfully defeated Red Star Belgrade to enter the semifinal of the European Cup. The plane had stopped in Munich for a refuel.

The runway was covered with a layer of slush due to snowfall. As a result, the aircraft crossed the fence beyond the runway and crashed after its left wing hit a house. This was the third attempt to take off after two failed attempts.

Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, and Liam "Billy" Whelan were the Manchester United players who lost their lives. 3 members of the Red Devils' staff and 8 journalists were also among the deceased.

Initially, pilot error was blamed for the crash but it was later found that slush at the end of the runway had prevented the aircraft from reaching the safe flying speed.

Memorials to remember the lost lives during the horrific incident still stand at Old Trafford, Munich, and Belgrade.

Edited by Debjyoti Samanta

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