Barcelona invite Chapecoense for Joan Gamper Trophy

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Barcelona have invited Chapecoense to play in the Joan Gamper Trophy next season to pay tribute to the 71 people who died in a tragic air disaster.

Chapecoense players, backroom staff and officials were among the victims when a flight carrying the team to the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional crashed in Colombia last week.

The football world has united in its support for the Brazilian Serie A side, with numerous clubs and players having offered to help in the wake of the tragedy.

Brazil will play Colombia in January to help raise money for those affected, and Barcelona are also keen to assist Chapecoense's recovery by offering a place in their pre-season plans for the 2017-18 campaign.

A Barcelona statement read: "FC Barcelona has agreed to invite to the next edition of the Joan Gamper Trophy the Brazilian team Chapecoense, who were the victims of the tragic plane crash when on the way to play the final of the Copa Sudamericana in Colombia on 28 November.

"FC Barcelona wants to pay tribute to the 71 people who died in the accident and their families, and will therefore make the 2017 Joan Gamper Trophy a great tribute to the world of football through various activities around this match which will become known as the date of this celebration approaches.

"Along with the invitation to Chapecoense to the 2017 Joan Gamper Trophy, FC Barcelona would like to collaborate on the institutional and sporting reconstruction of the Club, and help to recover the competitive level that it had.

"FC Barcelona has today sent a formal letter of invitation to the current Board of Directors of Chapecoense."

Meanwhile, one of the players who survived the plane crash on the way to Medellin has taken his first steps of recovery in hospital.

Alan Ruschel was the first survivor to be rescued from the plane and he has been making steady progress from the multiple fractures he suffered.

"I would like to tell you that I am recovering very well, I will soon come back to Brazil to finish my recovery," the 27-year-old said in a video message.

"I would like to thank all of you, for the support given and by the vows of affection that I also received, I just wanted to thank everyone, thank you very much."