A plane carrying 81 people, including members of Brazilian first division football club Associação Chapecoense de Futebol (ACF, commonly referred to as Chapecoense), crashed on its way to José María Córdova International Airport near Medellin, Colombia, on 29 November.

Chapecoense were scheduled to play Colombian side Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final on 30 November. The South American Football Confederation confirmed they have suspended the match following the tragic incident.

IBTimes UK looks at ACF's history and their recent journey to the final of the Copa Sudamericana.

ACF are based in Chapeco, located in the southern Brazil state of Santa Catarina. The club was formed in 1973 after the merger of Atletico Chapecoense and Independente. In 2002, ACF decided to change their name to Associação Chapecoense Kindermann/Mastervet due to sponsorship reasons. However, they reverted to their original name four years later.

Their home stadium is the Arena Conda, which can accommodate 22,600 people. It was opened in 1976, three years after Chapecoense were formed.

Campeonato Catarinense

Santa Catarina states compete in a football competition every year called Campeonato Catarinense. Just four years after the club's formation, Chapecoense won their first title after defeating Avai 1-0 in the final. The next season, they finished as runners-up, losing to Joinville in the final. Since then, the 'Chape' have made it to the final of Campeonato Catarinense on 10 occasions, winning five times.

Chapecoense entered the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A for the first time in 1978, where they finished 53rd. A year later, they slipped to 93rd position, which was their last season in Brazil's top flight club competition for over three decades.

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First division triumph

ACF returned to Brasileiro Serie A in 2014 after finishing second in the 2013 season of Campeonato Brasileiro Serie B. They finished seven points behind champions Palmeiras. In the 2014 season, they avoided relegation, finishing five points above Vitoria in 15th position. The next season, they improved their record by adding four more points to their previous tally. Chapecoense finished 14th with 47 points in the 2015 Brasileiro Serie A season.

In the 2016 campaign, manager Caio Junior's team have improved on their two-year record, making it in to the top half of the table after 37 games.

Chapecoense currently have 52 points and sit in ninth place, which has helped them seal a berth in the second stage of 2017 Copa Sudamericana, which they have achieved for the second year in a row. In 2014, they made it to the third stage of the same competition.

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The side led by Junior made history when they reached the final of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana, a feat that was achieved for the first time in the club's history. Chapecoense defeated Argentina side Independiente in the Round of 16, followed by victories over Junior FC and San Lorenzo in quarter-final and semi-final matches respectively.

Chapecoense progressed to the final after the aggregate scoreline was 1-1 after the two-legged semi-final clash against the Argentine outfit. The Brazilian club progressed using the away goals rules.

Following the tragic plane crash, Chapecoense vice president Ivan Tozzo has issued a statement via their official Facebook page.

Em função do desencontro das notícias que chegam das mais diversas fontes jornalisticas, dando conta de um acidente com...

Posted by Associação Chapecoense de Futebol on Monday, November 28, 2016

"In the light of the conflicting news reports coming from diverse journalistic sources, Chapecoense, through its vice-President Ivan Tozzo, will wait for the official confirmation of the Colombian Air Authority before issuing any official note about the accident. God be with our athletes, leaders, journalists and other guests who were travelling with the delegation."

Famous former players

A number of one-time Chapecoense stars have gone on to achieve fame and fortune with other clubs. Vitorino Hilton, who came through the team's youth system, won Ligue 1 with Montpellier in 2012 and has since become the club's captain. Paulo Rink, who had a loan spell with Chapecoense in 1995, was part of the Germany team that competed in Euro 2000. He won 13 caps as a centre-forward for Die Mannschaft, and tweeted this tribute to his former club following the crash: