January 29 – The repercussions of the tragic death almost exactly one year ago of Argentine striker Emiliano Sala are again making headlines for all the wrong reasons with buying club Cardiff City urging legal proceedings against selling club Nantes.
Sala died when the light aircraft carrying him to Cardiff two days after he signed crashed into the English Channel near Guernsey before he could play a single game for the Welsh club.
The dispute over who was liable for Sala’s €17 million fee has dragged on ever since and last October, Cardiff decided to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against FIFA’s ruling that they must pay the first instalment of €6 million to Nantes.
Cardiff have long argued they were not liable for any of the fee since Sala was not officially their player when he died as his playing registration was not complete and therefore the transfer was null and void.
The case ended up at the door of FIFA’s players’ status committee which sided with Nantes where Sala was a hero among the fans and who have been highly critical of Cardiff’s conduct over the tragedy.
But Cardiff have now urged the French authorities to launch an official investigation saying they have submitted documents to the public prosecutor in Nantes highlighting the role played by the French club in events leading up to the crash.
The club issued a statement in response to an article in French sports daily L’Equipe, which claimed Nantes owner Waldemar Kita and Sala’s agent Willy McKay would be central to any potential probe.
“As a result of our investigation we believe there is sufficient evidence of wrongdoing that necessitates investigation by the French authorities of those responsible for the arrangement of the transfer on behalf of FC Nantes and for arranging the doomed flight,” a Cardiff spokesman was quoted as saying.
“We have therefore passed over information to the Parquet de Nantes to assist their efforts. We remain committed to establishing the full facts and adhering to any final decision on our financial liability in the transfer.”
“CCFC has been clear throughout the past 12 months that a full investigation of the facts leading up to the tragedy is required.”
“Not only to fully understand what led to the downing of the Piper PA-46 Malibu plane, but to answer the wider questions that have been highlighted in this case, specifically related to the use of illegal flights in the football industry and the role of intermediaries in player transfers.
A report into the cause of the crash is expected to be published by Britain’s Air Accident Investigations (AAIB) before the end of March.
The AAIB has already revealed potentially fatal levels of carbon monoxide were found in Sala’s blood. An interim report also revealed that the private pilot, whose body was never found, had not been cleared to carry passengers for remuneration or financial reward.
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