The president and four players of Brazilian club Palmas have been killed in a plane crash en route to a game.
The club announced in a statement that President Lucas Meira, pilot Wagner Machado and four players – Lucas Praxedes, Guilherme Noe, Ranule and Marcus Molinari were killed in an accident on a private airstrip in Luzimangues on Sunday.
The four players only joined the Serie D side in 2021 and it was announced last week that Praxedes, Noe and Ranule had tested positive for coronavirus.
They were travelling to Goiania in a light aircraft for an away game against Vila Nova in the Copa Verde, an annual competition played between 24 teams from the north and central-west regions of Brazil.
According to Globo Esporte, their plane crashed moments after taking off and hit the ground moments after the end of the runway, killing all those on board.
A club statement read: “Palmas Futebol e Regatas hereby announces that at around 8:15 am on this Sunday, 24th, there was an air accident involving the president of the club, Lucas Meira, when he was taking off to Goiânia, for the match between Vila Nova x Palmas on Monday 25, valid for the Green Cup.
“The plane on which Lucas was with Commander Wagner and athletes Lucas Praxedes, Guilherme Noé, Ranule and Marcus Molinari, took off and crashed at the end of the runway of the Tocantins Association of Aviation.
“We regret to inform you that there are no survivors. In this moment of pain and dismay, the club asks for prayers for the relatives to whom it will provide the necessary support, and emphasises that in due time it will speak again.”
The club shared images of their last training session in their hometown, Tocantins, on Saturday and the game was scheduled for Monday night.
The CBF have confirmed that the game has been postponed.
Goalkeeper Ranule was 27, with left-back Lucas Praxedes and midfielder Marcus Molinari both just 23.
Defender Guilherme Noe was 28, whilst club president Lucas Meira, a local businessman, was 32.
Tributes have poured in from around Brazil, including from Chapecoense, who saw 19 of their squad and several club staff killed in a plane crash en route to a game in November 2016.
Chapecoense wrote on social media; “It is with deep sadness that we received the news of the crash of the plane that took athletes and the president of the @PalmasFutebol.
“Unfortunately, we know how this moment of insurmountable pain from irreparable losses is like and we would like that no other group had to feel the same.
“In the face of this, however, we express our feeling of strength and our total solidarity with family members, friends, teammates and fans.
“You will not go through this alone.”