Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala missing after suspected plane crash

Emiliano Sala was signed by Cardiff on Saturday from French club Nantes for a reported €17 million ($19.3 million) fee. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala missing after suspected plane crash

  • Emiliano Sala was signed by Cardiff on Saturday from French club Nantes for a reported €17 million ($19.3 million) fee
  • Lifeboats and a helicopter had searched for several hours for the plane, which had two people and a pilot on board

NANTES, France: Premier League club Cardiff City’s record new signing, Argentina-born striker Emiliano Sala, was on board a light aircraft that disappeared over the English Channel on Monday night, police sources said.
Sala, signed by Cardiff on Saturday from French club Nantes for a reported €17 million ($19.3 million) fee, was flying to Cardiff aboard a small plane that disappeared from radars around 20 kilometers north of Guernsey, sources confirmed on condition of anonymity.
A statement from police on Guernsey, a British island just off the coast of France, said lifeboats and a helicopter had searched for several hours for the plane, which had two people and a pilot on board.
“The search was terminated at 02:00, with all search and rescue assets being stood down, due to strengthening winds, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility,” the statement said.
“At this time no trace of the missing aircraft had been found,” it added.
Two helicopters, two planes and a lifeboat joined renewed efforts on Tuesday morning to find the single-propeller plane which is thought to have crashed.
Sala, 28, who had been at Nantes since 2016 and had scored 13 goals in all competitions this season, had signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with relegation-threatened Cardiff subject to receiving international clearance.
Neither club has commented publicly on the disappearance, but Nantes have postponed their French Cup match against third-tier side Entente SSG on Wednesday as a mark of respect.
When he put pen to paper at Cardiff on Saturday, Sala, who also has Italian nationality, said in a statement: “I’m very happy to be here. It gives me great pleasure and I can’t wait to start training, meet my new team-mates and get down to work.
“For me it feels special (to be the club’s record signing). I have come here wanting to work and to help my team-mates and the club.”
Sala’s last post on Instagram showed him surrounded by players from FC Nantes. “La ultima ciao (the last goodbye),” he wrote.
The accident, if confirmed, would come only three months after the Thai billionaire owner of Leicester City football club died in a helicopter crash that shocked the club and supporters around the world.
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others died on October 28 shortly after taking off from the pitch of the club’s stadium in central England.
Disconnected cockpit pedals, which are used to control the rotor on the helicopter’s tail, were found to be the cause of the accident by investigators.
Cardiff currently sit third from bottom of the English Premier League with 19 points.
Sala, who also holds an Italian passport, began his footballing career at French club Bordeaux, which he joined as a teenager, and spent loan spells at other French clubs including Orleans, Niort and Caen.
He joined Nantes in 2016 for one million euros and appeared to be peaking as a player in recent seasons, overcoming technical shortcomings that had held him back earlier in his career.
He was tipped for a move to Turkish giants Galatasaray last summer.
“He’s a very likeable lad, very hard working,” his coach at Nantes, Vahid Halilhodzic, said of him recently.


From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

Updated 25 April 2019
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From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

  • Race will start in Jeddah and make a stop in Riyadh before ending in Qiddiya
  • Take a look back at the most momentous moments

LONDON: A new and exciting chapter in the prestigious history of the Dakar Rally is ready to be written as the world’s biggest and most challenging rally confirmed it will debut in Saudi Arabia in January 2020.

1977: Inspiration
Biker Thierry Sabine gets lost in the Libyan desert while competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally. After being rescued from the sands on the verge of death, he vows to share the scale and magic of the desert with the whole world.

1978: A dream come true
On 26 December 1978, a field of 170 adventurers starts its 10,000-kilometer quest through Algeria, Niger, Mali, the Upper Volta, and Senegal. A total of 74 vehicles make it to the finish on Place de l’Indépendance in Dakar, with Cyril Neveu at the helm.

1983: Ickx on all fronts
Celebrities and the best drivers and riders in the world heed the call of the Dakar. The combination is a successful one, with the six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Jacky Ickx and comedian Claude Brasseur taking the spoils in the fourth edition.

1986: Tragedy strikes
Thierry Sabine and Daniel Balavoine die in a helicopter crash alongside pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and radio technician Jean-Paul Lefur. Gilbert Sabine, the father of the creator of the race, takes over as director.

1992: Africa from north to south
The Dakar takes a break from the capital of Senegal to pit the competitors against the challenge of a lifetime. The drivers and riders have to tackle a route of almost 12,500 kilometers through 11 countries to cross Africa from one side to the other and reach Cape Town in South Africa. Stéphane Peterhansel (motorbikes) and Hubert Auriol (cars) stand atop the podium at the end of the Odyssey.

1998: Peterhansel rolls a six
The biker with a blue bandana emerges victorious from a clash of titans with Orioli and Arcarons to become the undisputed master of the category in the 1990s. His sixth win catapults him past Cyril Neveu as the event record holder. “Peter” has since added seven car victories to his tally!

2000: At the foot of the pyramids
The Dakar marks the turn of the century next to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid of Giza. Reigning champions Richard Sainct (motorbikes) and Jean-Louis Schlesser (cars) both manage to defend their titles against this prestigious backdrop.

2001: Miss Dakar
No one suspects that this will be the last Paris–Dakar. In contrast, everyone sees Jutta Kleinschmidt, who had made her Dakar debut in 1988 on a motorbike, become the first woman to win the rally, this time racing at the wheel of a Mitsubishi 4×4. She remains the only female winner of the event to date.

2009: Rising from the ashes in Buenos Aires
The Dakar picks itself up and crosses the Atlantic to rise from the ashes. A new era dawns with 4 million spectators turning out in force to cheer on the drivers and riders in the majestic landscapes of Argentina and Chile.

2012: Pacific Challenge
After three years with a route starting and ending in Buenos Aires, the organizers break the mold with a finish on the Pacific coast of Lima, Peru.

2014: Dizzying heights
Bolivia becomes the 28th country to host the Dakar. The Altiplano and Salar de Uyuni introduce a new test for the competitors: extreme altitude, which takes a toll on both their bodies and their machines.

2020: Chapter 3
In the wake of its first foray into Paraguay in 2017, the Dakar adds the 30th country to its list. In Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, the competitors will face challenges such as the “Empty Quarter,” a pristine expanse that has never been explored fully before.