Emiliano Sala

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Report on Sala death concludes pilot, plane unqualified to fly

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The Air Accidents Investigation Branch published its year-long investigation into the crash that killed footballer Emiliano Sala in January of 2019.

In the report, the Branch determined that the pilot, David Ibbotson, who also died in the crash, was not licensed to fly commercially despite expecting to be paid for the trip and his rating for the particular aircraft, a single-engine Piper Malibu N264DB, had expired. In addition, the report added that Ibbotson was not qualified to fly at night. “Neither the plane nor the pilot had the required licenses or permissions to operate commercially,” the report concluded.

“This flight was clearly an illegal charter, something we’ve said for a long time needs to stop,” said Dave Edwards, chief executive of the Air Charter Association on the report. “I think what’s most sad is that there were probably about seven opportunities throughout the sequence where this flight could have stopped, and in a commercial environment it would have stopped, but in this case it just carried on through those levels until the ultimate moment of impact. Everything that could go wrong sadly did go wrong.”

In addition, the report found numerous faults with the aircraft. There was carbon monoxide leaking into the cabin from the plane’s heating system as well as a faulty autopilot that should have been labeled “inoperative.” The carbon monoxide was a significant contributing factor to the crash, as the report stated that tests on Sala’s blood concluded it contained enough carbon monoxide to cause seizure, heart attack or unconsciousness, concluding that Ibbotson likely was suffering from exposure as well, which would have significantly hampered his ability to fly safely.

“The pathologist considered he [Sala] would almost certainly have been deeply unconscious at impact,” the report states. However, the report does conclude that Ibbotson was conscious and attempting to fly the plane at the moment of impact into the English Channel.

Sala also reportedly voiced his concerns about the aircraft moments before takeoff, saying in a voice message to friends in Argentina, “I’m in a plane that seems to be falling apart,” before adding, “I’m scared.”

Sala was flying from Nantes, France to Cardiff to complete a transfer from Ligue 1 side Nantes to then-Premier League club Cardiff City.

Nantes pays tribute to the late Sala with special jersey

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NANTES, France — French club Nantes will pay tribute to late Argentine player Emiliano Sala by wearing a special blue and white shirt during Sunday’s league game gainst Bordeaux.

Nantes, which traditionally plays in yellow and green, said Tuesday that the commemorative outfit is available for sale. All profits from the sales will be allocated to Sala’s training clubs in Argentina.

“Because he dreamed of wearing Argentina’s shirt, Nantes players will leave their usual yellow and green jersey for a white and blue tunic,” Nantes said in a statement.

Sala was killed a year ago when the single-engine aircraft carrying him from Nantes to his new club in Cardiff crashed near the Channel Island of Guernsey on Jan. 21. Hours earlier, FIFA had received an online document from the Welsh soccer federation to complete transferring the player’s registration from France.

Sala’s body was recovered from the wreckage two weeks later.

Nantes said a picture of Sala will also be displayed in the center circle at Stade de La Beaujoire and a minute’s applause will be held in his memory.

Since Sala’s death, Nantes and Cardiff have been involved in a dispute over transfer fee payments. Last year, Cardiff filed a court appeal seeking to overturn a FIFA order it must pay Nantes a 6 million euro ($6.7 million) first payment for Sala. FIFA ruled in favor of Nantes and warned Cardiff it faces a transfer ban of three trading windows if it refuses to pay when the case is settled.

Cardiff City parts ways with Neil Warnock

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Cardiff City has fired manager Neil Warnock with the 70-year-old boss in his fourth season with the club.

The Bluebirds sit 14th in the Championship table, on a six-match run that features just a single win.

Warnock’s tenure at Cardiff City featured promotion from the Championship in 2017/18 via a second-place finish in the league table. It wouldn’t last long, as they were relegated the next year, finishing 18th, two points back of Brighton Hove & Albion in safety.

“I am leaving my beloved Bluebirds after over three years of which have been some of the best days in my long football career,” Warnock said, with the club officially stating the decision came via mutual consent. “It is a shared belief that this is the right time for a new voice as we believe this squad of players is more than capable of getting success.”

“On behalf of Cardiff City Football Club, I thank Neil for his invaluable contribution to the future of this great Club,” said Cardiff City FC Chairman Mehmet Dalman in a club statement. “He not only gained promotion in his first season but played a pivotal role in uniting the fans and the club. I am personally upset by his departure and wish him the very best for the future.”

At 70 years old and completing his 17th managerial stint with 15 different clubs, it is possible that Warnock’s managerial career is complete. The Sheffield-born former Barnsley player, who turns 71 in less than a month, has taken charge of 112 Premier League games and overseen a record eight promotion campaigns in his career to date.

At Cardiff, Warnock took charge of 144 matches total, with 59 wins. He was in the position for the death of Emiliano Sala, which he called “by far the most difficult week of my career.”

FIFA verdict in Sala case warns of Cardiff transfer ban

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ZURICH — FIFA has warned Cardiff it is facing a transfer ban of three windows if the club fails to send 6 million euros ($6.7 million) to Nantes as the first payment for Emiliano Sala.

The threat facing Cardiff was detailed Monday in FIFA’s published verdict in a dispute over the Argentine forward who died in a plane crash in January before playing for his new team.

After getting the written verdict in recent days, Cardiff can appeal against FIFA’s ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

FIFA says an appeal will stop the clock on Cardiff’s 45-day deadline to pay until a binding verdict by CAS. That could take about one year.

Sala was killed when a single-engine aircraft carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff to complete his move crashed near the Channel Island of Guernsey late on Jan. 21.

Hours earlier, FIFA says, it received an online document from the Welsh soccer federation to complete transferring the player’s registration from France.

FIFA orders Cardiff to pay Nantes initial fee for Emiliano Sala

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FIFA has ruled that Cardiff City must pay FC Nantes the initial $6.5 million for the transfer of the late Emiliano Sala, and reportedly will be required to transact the entire $18 million fee once it comes due according to the negotiated deal in January.

The Argentine striker died in a plane crash on the way to his new club, along with the pilot David Ibbotson.

Initially, it seemed by the FIFA announcement that a middle ground had been reached, with FIFA requiring just the $6.5 million to be paid as a way of placating the two sides in an emotionally charged dispute. However, it is now being reported that the payment amount is for the initial fee owed by Cardiff City at the time of the transfer, and that FIFA has ruled that the Welsh club will indeed be on the hook for the entire fee once it comes due. The confusion stems from Nantes only officially appealing to FIFA for the initial payment due in January, but that the precedent has now been set for future installments as well.

Cardiff City has 10 days to accept the decision or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and reports state they will indeed do so. They have argued that because paperwork had not been completed and Sala had not been registered to the club at his time of death, they were not on the hook for his club-record fee, while Nantes countered that the two parties had agreed to the transfer and because of Sala’s departure from their grounds to make his way to Cardiff City, they should be compensated for his services.

An autopsy in August determined that Sala was exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide prior to his death, with investigators surmising that the exposure likely contributed to the crash. With the body of pilot David Ibbotson still missing, it’s assumed that he was also exposed to the fumes, which could have rendered the duo unconscious, leading to the crash.