A group of widows of Chapecoense players who died in last November‘s plane crash are now suing the team. The five widows so far have brought labor lawsuits against the football club to claim rights to prize money and image rights.
The team has its own board of labor actions to deal with such claims.
Valdécia Paiva, widow of the midfielder “Gil”, brought forth the first lawsuit in February. Paiva’s two daughters, Gabriella and Lívia, also put their names on the suit. The team has scheduled their hearing for later this May.
In addition, four other widows plan to take action on behalf of their families. They are the widows of late forwards Bruno Rangel, Canela, and Ananias, as well as the right midfielder Gimenez. However, they have not yet gathered the appropriate documentation. A legal firm in São Paulo is handling their claims.
The remaining documents include the athletes’ sports contracts and declarations of image rights and prize money, which lawyers haven’t yet received from the team.
Immediately following the plane crash, which took 71 lives, players’ families received severance pay and life insurance from both the team and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).
However, the widows claim that this compensation lacked days worked in the month of November, when the crash occurred. Furthermore, the team still has to pay the players’ 13th salary – an end-of-the-year bonus required for Brazilian employers – and paid vacation. Finally, there remains the question of image rights.
The lawyers handling these cases also point out the families’ claims to moral damages and pension pay. Their argument is that the athletes died under the responsibility of the Chapecoense football club administration.
The team’s defense
The team itself, however, contests these claims and is ready to defend its actions. According to the team administration, the accident was not their fault but rather the responsibility of the airline. Indeed, investigations determined that the airline company LaMia had taken flight without the proper amount of fuel, leading to the accident.
“We already made the insurance payment, which exists for this exact purpose,” says Luiz Antônio Palaoro, Chapecoense’s juridical vice-president. “Each player received 40 times their original salary. We understand the anguish of their families but we cannot do anything more.”
Moreover, the team sees itself as a victim of the crash, too.
“The employer is responsible in the case of an accident when he is at fault. But for what is Chapecoense to blame here? The team is a victim too,” adds Palaoro. “The team didn’t add risk to the players’ job. For a player to compete in another country he has to get on a plane.”
Unfortunately for the team, the fallen players’ wives are actively communicating among themselves. They’ve opened a WhatsApp group between them, and many more plan to take similar action.