By Andrew Downie
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – One of the three surviving soccer players pulled from the wreckage of the Colombian air crash that killed 71 people this week is doing well after leg surgery and will play again, his father said.
“My son is getting better all the time,” Helam Marinho Zampier, father of Chapecoense player Helio Neto, wrote in a Facebook post late on Thursday night.
“He has just had surgery on his leg, and doctors affirm he will play football again,” the post said.
Neto, a 31-year old central defender, was one of just six survivors of the crash, which took place as the plane approached Medellin airport on Monday night.
The Chapecoense team was heading to Colombia to take on local club Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final.
Two other players survived, but neither is expected to play again.
The news comes ahead of weekend soccer games that will be marked by the tragedy.
Many clubs have already held a silent tribute, and fans, clubs and players the world over have shown their solidarity with the small team from southern Brazil.
Among those scheduled to attend the funerals in Brazil this weekend is Gianno Infantino, president of world soccer governing body FIFA, which has called for a minute’s silence at all games this weekend.
“All players around the world are also asked to wear black armbands in memory of the tragic loss of life,” FIFA added.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)