SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s soccer clubs and fans paid tribute to Chapecoense on Sunday on the last day of the league season as Internacional were relegated for the first time in their 107-year history.
Before the final nine matches, teams lined up to observe a minute’s silence for the Chapecoense players and officials killed when their plane crashed in Colombia on Nov. 28.
The small team from southern Brazil were heading to Medellin to play Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final when their plane crashed into a mountainside.
Only six of the 77 people on board the plane survived.
Fans chanted the club’s name at stadiums across Brazil on Sunday and several teams had messages of support on their strips.
Corinthians’ shirt featured details of the bank account where fans can make donations to the stricken club.
There were tears also in Rio, where visitors Internacional drew 1-1 with Fluminense and were relegated to Serie B for the first time since their formation in 1909.
The Porto Alegre team needed a win to have any chance of survival but struggled throughout the match. Douglas put Fluminense ahead after 72 minutes and Gustavo Ferrareis equalised four minutes from time.
The result left Inter, who won the Club World Cup 10 years ago this month, fourth-bottom, meaning they fall into the second tier along with Figueirense, Santa Cruz and America-MG.
“We were incompetent the whole season,” Internacional striker Alex said. “We should be ashamed of ourselves. And we need to ask the fans for forgiveness.”
Palmeiras had already won the league with games to spare but the final Copa Libertadores qualifying places were decided on Sunday, with Botafogo’s 1-0 win at Gremio guaranteeing them a spot in fifth and sixth-placed Atletico Paranaense joining them.
Corinthians lost out on a Copa Libertadores place after losing 3-2 at Cruzeiroas they finished seventh.
The other three qualifying places went to Santos, Flamengo and Atletico Mineiro.
Atletico were due to face Chapecoense but agreed not to play the match so that their opponents, who lost almost all of their players in the airline tragedy, did not have to raise a team.
Reporting by Andrew Downie; editing by Ken Ferris