Soccer’s worldwide governing body FIFA has ruled that Cardiff City still has to pay Nantes part of the record $19 million transfer fee for striker Emiliano Sala, who tragically died before he could play a single game for his new club.
The Mirror reported that Cardiff City was originally going to pay the $19 million to Nantes in three installments, but after Sala died, Cardiff argued that they should not have to pay any part of the fee since Sala was not a registered Premier League player. FIFA disagreed, and ruled that Cardiff City has to pay Nantes approximately $6.5 million, which would have been the amount of the first installment payment.
Sala, 28, died in January in a plane crash just days after his transfer from Nantes to Cardiff City. Sala had been in Nantes, saying goodbye to his teammates, and was flying to England to join his new team and make his debut. The plane never arrived at its destination. It disappeared from radar at 2,300 feet and was not able to be contacted by air traffic control. A search for the aircraft began immediately.
Sala’s body and the plane wreckage were found several weeks after the crash, but only after the search had been called off and restarted due to an outcry from Sala’s family, several high-profile soccer players like Lionel Messi, and many distraught fans. Sala’s body was recovered 67 meters under water on the seabed 21 miles off the coast of the island of Guernsey, but the wreckage was deemed irretrievable. The body of pilot David Ibbotson has not been found.
The exact cause of death and the cause of the crash have yet to be determined. However, a recent report from the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch revealed that Sala’s blood had a carbon monoxide level of 58 percent. Carbon monoxide at that level is considered to be potentially fatal, and can cause seizures, loss of consciousness and heart attack.
The BBC consulted an aviation safety expert who speculated that carbon monoxide from the plane’s exhaust could have gotten into the ventilation system, possibly poisoning both Sala and Ibbotson and causing the crash. According to the BBC, AAIB investigators are working with American aircraft manufacturers to determine how carbon monoxide could have gotten into the cabin.
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