The Epidemic of Plane Crashes in Soccer

The epidemic of plane crashes that started a few years ago needs to be addressed by sports leagues, airports, and airplane crews in order to prevent future tragedies.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A plane containing four players and the president of Brazilian soccer club Palmas FC crashed on January 24, killing all of those on board, including the pilot. The players were traveling to Goiania to play a game against Vila Nova after completing their quarantine periods following positive COVID-19 tests. However, moments after takeoff, the plane crashed onto the ground, leaving no survivors.

Palmas later released a statement asking for prayers and support for the friends and families of Lucas Praxedes, Guilherme Noe, Ranule Gomes dos Reis, and Marcus Molinari, the players who lost their lives in this tragic incident.

However, this incident is not the first of its kind. It drew immediate comparisons to the fate of Chapecoense, a club that lost nearly their entire roster in a horrific plane crash in 2016. There were 77 people on board their LaMia flight, and 71 of them died as the plane ran out of fuel minutes before landing.

The Palmas FC plane crash also reminded people of the untimely death of Emiliano Sala, who passed away en route to complete a transfer to Cardiff City from Nantes FC in 2019. The plane crashed off the shore of Guernsey, a small island located in the middle of the English Channel. Two rescue missions were sent to find Sala, and they found him dead on their second attempt.

The epidemic of plane crashes in soccer is a very frustrating one, especially considering how preventable they are. In the case of Palmas FC, the poor infrastructure of the airport played a crucial role in the plane’s failed ascension. For Chapecoense, 71 deaths could have been prevented with better operation planning for fuel, as well as clear-headed decision-making by the crew. The crew was aware that they would run out of fuel 20 minutes before the plane’s descent, yet they never informed Air Traffic Control (ATC). As the ATC operators were unaware of the fuel shortage, they delayed the landing of the flight that the Chapecoense players were in, eating away precious time. The death of Sala may be the most frustrating of them all. The weather was clearly not conducive to travel, and the flight was on a relatively small plane. Additionally, the pilot was not licensed to fly the plane on a commercial journey, making the plane crash even more inevitable. David Henderson, the 66-year-old man who arranged Sala’s flight from Nantes to Cardiff, was charged with manslaughter for the negligence that led to the deaths of Sala and the pilot.

Blame doesn’t fall solely on the hands of reckless airline attendants, though. Sports leagues also need to take action to prevent future incidents like these. It is imperative that executives postpone any match in which either team has to fly through dangerous weather in order to arrive on time. Though this choice may prove to be a burden on scheduling, it would play a huge role in preventing future plane crashes. Leagues can also subsidize the travel costs for teams so that they can use medium to large-sized planes instead of small ones. Small planes are vulnerable to strong winds and thunderstorms and are consequently more dangerous. In the case of Palmas and Sala, the disasters may have been avoided simply if the plane were bigger. Moreover, sports leagues could hire certain airline companies to have exclusive rights in transporting teams from city to city. This way, the leagues can ensure that the fuel, electricity, and other essential materials are properly managed on each flight. One thing that was already abundantly clear was only confirmed after the news about Palmas FC: we need to learn from this epidemic of plane crashes, or else tragedy will strike again.