Cardiff City launches legal action against Nantes after claiming the club will present the findings of its investigation into Emiliano Sala’s death.
Emiliano Sala died along with his pilot last year after a plane taking him to Cardiff from Nantes was crashed in a sea. A year later, the Welsh club has passed on the details to French prosecutors after saying “sufficient evidence of wrongdoing” has been found against Nantes.
In response, Nantes has said that it was stunned by the accusations of Cardiff City. Meanwhile, the Bluebirds even have refused to pay the £15 million fee decided during the move as they claim that Sala was not their player during the clash.
But in September 2019, FIFA ordered the Welsh club to pay the first instalment of £5.3 million to Nantes. In response, Cardiff challenged the decision this in Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in Lausanne is expected in the spring, with a judgement due to follow in June.
The Piper Malibu N264DB carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson went missing over waters near the Channel Islands on 21 January. It took rescuers two weeks to find the wreckage.
The footballer’s body was recovered on 8 February after a private rescue team took over the search. Now, a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has stated some facts causing Sala’s death.
The AAIB has already revealed potentially fatal levels of carbon monoxide were found in Sala’s blood. Further, an interim report into the crash revealed that, as a private pilot, Mr Ibbotson was not allowed to carry passengers for remuneration or financial reward.
He was also unqualified to fly at night due to his extreme colour-blindness. On Tuesday, the club issued a statement calling for an investigation by French authorities.
“CCFC has been clear throughout the past 12 months that a full investigation of the facts leading up to the tragedy is required,” it said.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
But Nantes criticised the Bluebirds over the latest move, saying it was “absolutely stunned by Cardiff’s umpteenth attempt to exploit this tragedy”.
Its statement added: “FC Nantes has always shown a very quiet attitude since the beginning of these events. FC Nantes has always acted in good faith, while Cardiff has made repeated attempts to destabilise public opinion with falsehoods.”
“What clearly appears to be a media offensive is so inappropriate as we just paid our respect to Emiliano Sala in a few days and one day before the submission of Cardiff’s memory deposit before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”