By Andrew Warshaw
August 30 – The unsavoury dispute over who was liable for Emiliano Sala’s €17 million transfer fee from Nantes to Cardiff City appears to have finally reached its conclusion after Cardiff lost their appeal against a ruling by FIFA to pay the first instalment of €6 million to the French club.
The Argentine forward was tragically killed along with the pilot in January 2019, when the light aircraft carrying him to Cardiff two days after he signed crashed into the sea before he could play a single game.
Hours earlier, it is reported that FIFA received an online document from the Wales Football Association to complete the transfer of the player’s registration from France.
Cardiff 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, ruling Cardiff faced a three-window transfer ban if they didn’t comply.
The English Championship club, which was in the Premier League at the time, appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which on Friday dismissed it and ruled Cardiff must now pay €6 million to Nantes.
“After taking into due consideration all the evidence produced and all the arguments put forward by both clubs, the CAS panel found the player’s transfer from FC Nantes to Cardiff City FC to have been completed,” CAS said.
“And because the conditions set out in the transfer agreement were fulfilled prior to the player’s death, FC Nantes’ claim for the first instalment of the transfer fee in the amount of 6m euros was upheld.”
CAS added that the proceedings only concerned the first instalment of the €17 million transfer fee.
Despite the ruling, a “disappointed” Cardiff angrily refused to accept the verdict, saying they would not hand over any money for now and, if forced to, would take further legal action to recover any losses.
“The award fails to decide the crucial question of FC Nantes’ (and its agents’) liability for the crash, which will therefore have to be decided in another forum,” a statement said,
“Once the club’s lawyers have digested the reasons for the decision we expect to appeal and will not be making any payments to FC Nantes in the meanwhile.
“If those appeals are unsuccessful and the club is liable to pay the transfer fee, the club will take legal action against those responsible for the crash for damages to recover its losses. This will include FC Nantes, and its agents.
“All our thoughts must continue to be with Emiliano’s family, who are now supported financially by the trust the club put in place for them.”
Nantes released their own counter-statement welcoming the CAS verdict, arguing they were entirely vindicated by Cardiff’s behaviour and denouncing what they claimed was a “public misinformation campaign.”
“The CAS has completely rejected the appeal lodged by Cardiff City and has confirmed the decision rendered by FIFA on 25 September 2019 concerning the transfer of player Emiliano Sala,” Nantes said.
“The court therefore ruled, as FC Nantes [FCN] had argued since the start of the proceedings, that the player’s transfer to Cardiff City was over when he died tragically in an aviation accident.
“Consequently, the CAS ordered Cardiff City to pay the transfer fee to FC Nantes and sentenced Cardiff to a historically high sum, in respect of procedural costs and arbitration costs.
“FC Nantes is delighted that this procedure – initiated by Cardiff City then delayed on numerous occasions by Cardiff City – which has been difficult for all those close to Emiliano, is finally over.
“The club hopes that this will mark the end of the public misinformation campaign, which the FCN has never reacted to, out of respect for the player’s family.”
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