SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian football club Chapecoense, whose squad was almost entirely wiped out in a 2016 plane crash, called on authorities to expel Nacional from the Libertadores Cup on Friday after their fans were caught making mocking airplane gestures.

 

An investigation was opened into Wednesday’s incidents by South American football's governing body CONMEBOL.

 

CONMEBOL asked Nacional to present their defense by Feb 8, a day after the teams meet in the second leg of their qualifying match. Nacional won the first leg 1-0 in Brazil.

 

Chapecoense requested that "the judgment take place before Feb 7 or that the game be delayed until after the judgment".

 

"Chapecoense is asking for Nacional to be excluded from the ... Libertadores," the club said in a statement.

 

The Uruguayan club apologized on behalf of their fans in an open letter published on Thursday and a day later identified one of those responsible and stripped him of his club membership.

"Unfortunately, lots of sick minds channel their irrationality into sporting events," Nacional said as they expressed their "profound shame".

They did not name the banned member but instead referred to him by his membership number.

Chapecoense were traveling to the final of the Copa Sudamericana to play Colombian side Atletico Nacional in November, 2016 when the plane carrying their team crashed into a mountainside outside Medellin.

Seventy one of the 77 people on board, including all but three of the Chapecoense squad, died in the crash.

The small club from southern Brazil rebuilt last year and managed to reach the qualifying rounds of the Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League.

The Brazilians, however, lost the first leg at home on Wednesday to a goal from Santiago Romero.

The result gives the Uruguayans a slim advantage to take into the second leg in Montevideo next week. The winner will qualify for the third and final qualifying round ahead of the group stages.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)