'Eternal champions' - Atletico Nacional fans pack stadium in emotional tribute to Chapecoense

"We will never forget the champions", fans sang in Colombia as Nacional's would-be opponents were honoured in an emotional ceremony

Atletico Nacional's Estadio Atanasio Girardot may not have hosted a game on Wednesday, but it was nevertheless packed with fans in a moving tribute to those who lost their lives in the plane crash involving Chapecoense. 

The two sides were set to meet in the stadium to play the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final, but the tie was abandoned after the accident in which 71 passengers were killed. 

Chape's tragic journey to Medellin

But on the same day on which the game was scheduled, thousands mobilised in the ground to pay their respects to the Brazilian side in Medellin. 

Nacional players gathered around the centre-circle while those in the stands chanted messages of support for those grieving back in Chapeco, with words including "please remember across the continent, we will never forget the champions Chapecoense."

Medellin mayor Federico Gutierrez was in attendance at the Girardot, and helped release 71 white doves to symbolise each of the casualties in Tuesday's tragedy. 

"The worst thing a society can be is indifferent to one another," the official explained. 

"We were once the most violent city in the world, and we know how that indifference feels. We all need to be together." 

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And with the words "Eternal Champions" written on the Atanasio big screen, fans holding candles then rose in an emotional ovation as the name of each victim was shown. 

Chapecoense's tragedy has sparked offers of aid and solidarity from across the football world, as the Brazilians try to pick up the pieces following an accident that has left the club and city in mourning. 

Atletico have called for their would-be opponents to be named Sudamericana champions as a mark of respect for those lost in the disaster.