Chapecoense relegated three years on from plane crash tragedy

Brazilian side Chapecoense have been relegated to the second division for the first time in their history, three years after a tragic plane crash that killed most of their players.

Chapecoense lost 1-0 at home to Botafogo on Wednesday to end their hopes of remaining in the top division for a seventh straight campaign.

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The result left Chapecoense second bottom out of 20 teams, with 28 points and three games remaining.

While they could still catch 16th-placed Ceara, who hold the last position of safety with 37 points, they would still finish behind them as the competition's first tiebreaker is games won. Chapecoense have won six games while Ceara have won 10.

Chapecoense made it to Serie A for the first time in 2014 and finished 15th and 14th in their first two top-flight seasons.

"I want to apologise to the fans for not achieving our aim to remain in the division," Chapecoense coach Marquinhos Santos told reporters. "I'm certain that Chapecoense will return much stronger."

Captain Douglas said: "It's a delicate moment, difficult to find words in this situation. We players are very sorry to leave Chapecoense in this situation, but Chapecoense has always shown unity.

"I think this is the time for the whole community to unite again, rearrange things, leave everything on track for Chapecoense to return to Serie A, which is the club's place, and continue to build this beautiful story."

Despite losing 19 players and staff on Nov. 28, 2016, in a plane crash near Medelllin, Colombia, the team avoided relegation that season. They lifted the Santa Caterina state championship in May 2017; their first title since the plane crash that killed 71 of the 77 people on board.

The crash occurred as the squad travelled to face Colombian side Atletico Nacional in the final of the Copa Sudamericana.