ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — The Brazilian club Chapecoense, which lost most of its players in an air crash last week, has been awarded the Copa Sudamericana championship by the governing body of South American soccer.
In a statement Monday, CONMEBOL said it awarded the title "as a posthumous homage to the victims of the fatal crash that leaves our sport in mourning."
Nineteen of Chapecoense's players were killed in the crash just outside Medellin, Colombia, as the team headed to the first of two matches against Colombian club Atletico Nacional to determine the champion of the Copa Sudamericana — Latin America's No. 2 club tournament.
As the winner, Chapecoense qualifies automatically for next season's Copa Libertadores, the continent's top tournament.
This also means that Chapecoense will face Atletico Nacional — the defending Copa Libertadores champion — in an emotion-charged two-game series next year between the continent's two club champions.
CONMEBOL also awarded Atletico Nacional its Fair Play award. CONMEBOL said it was asked to award Chapecoense the title by the directors of Atletico Nacional.
Chapecoense is likely to field a team next season of borrowed players from other clubs.
Later on Monday the club confirmed it will not play against Atletico Mineiro on Sunday in the last round of the Brazilian championship.
Atletico has agreed with that decision as the result won't impact the position of either team in the tournament.
All the other games will proceed, the Brazilian football confederation said.