Emiliano Sala tragedy sparks unsavoury legal wrangle

Fan tributes to Emiliano Sala outside Cardiff City Stadium. Cardiff City and French side Nantes are threatening to go to court over the late Argentinian striker’s £15 million transfer fee. (Getty Images)
Updated 20 February 2019
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Emiliano Sala tragedy sparks unsavoury legal wrangle

  • The plane carrying the striker came down in the English Channel en route to the Welsh capital on January 21, two days after he completed his transfer from Nantes
  • Cardiff have so far refused to pay the first instalment of the club record fee, believed to be £5 million, as they await the results of an Air Accidents Investigations Bureau investigation

LONDON: The tragedy of the plane crash that killed Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala has now entered an ugly aftermath as Premier League club Cardiff City and French side Nantes threaten to go to court over his £15 million ($19 million) transfer fee.
Sala, who was buried at the age of 28 in the Argentine village of Progreso on Saturday, never played a game for Cardiff. The plane carrying the striker and pilot David Ibbotson came down in the English Channel en route to the Welsh capital on January 21, two days after he completed his transfer from Nantes.
Cardiff have so far refused to pay the first instalment of the club record fee, believed to be £5 million, as they await the results of an Air Accidents Investigations Bureau (AAIB) investigation into the causes of the crash.
The Telegraph reported on Sunday that Cardiff believe that if the AAIB find Ibbotson did not hold the necessary license to carry passengers on a commercial basis, then a negligence claim could be launched against whoever arranged the flight.
That would point the finger at agents Willie and Mark McKay, who were hired by Nantes to secure the transfer.
Willie McKay has accused Cardiff of “trying to throw me under the bus” in an attempt to avoid paying the transfer fee.
Speaking to The Times, Willie McKay said his son Mark arranged the fateful flight carrying Sala and Ibbotson, just as he had organized several flights for brokers of the deal in the weeks previously, including Cardiff manager Neil Warnock.
Willie McKay also rejected a statement from Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman that the club were unaware of who made Sala’s flight arrangements.
In his published timeline of events, Willie McKay said: “Emiliano was due to be met by the Cardiff City player liaison officer who was waiting for him to arrive at the Signature Flight Support building at Cardiff Airport on Monday evening (January 21). Cardiff City knew of the flight and who organized the flight.”
Cardiff have also reportedly questioned Willie McKay’s practice of trying to inflate transfer fees by fabricating interest in players from clubs.
“It was us who put in the media about other clubs wanting you — West Ham, Everton etc — to create an interest on you that’s what we do,” Willie McKay wrote in a letter to Sala that has now been made public.
However, that is a common, if dubious, practice among football agents and Cardiff’s case to use that as a reason for avoiding any part of the transfer fee is unlikely to be met with favor should the case proceed to court.
Nantes believe the McKays’ work for them ended when Sala’s move was transfer was completed, therefore absolving them of any responsibility over the arrangements of the flight.
The Guardian reported on Wednesday that Nantes will take their case to FIFA this week if the £5 million instalment is not paid.
“FIFA has not been contacted on this matter,” world football’s governing body said when contacted by AFP.
A resolution via FIFA’s players’ status committee or even the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is likely unless Cardiff relent on their current stance.
“There are, in my opinion, two possible solutions,” sports lawyer Gianpaolo Monteneri, who was head of FIFA’s Players’ Status Department from 1997-2005, told the Press Association.
“The first one is that the parties have established to go to FIFA and, in such a case, the matter is submitted to the players’ status committee in the first instance, with the possibility of an appeal to CAS.
“But it is also possible that the parties have decided to skip FIFA and go direct to CAS.”
Should Cardiff be found to have failed to comply with their contractual obligations without due cause, a range of sanctions are on offer to FIFA, according to Monteneri.
“If certain deadlines, which are mentioned in the transfer contract, are not met then these may trigger consequences for the club in question.
“This can be from an admonishment right up to a withdrawal of league points.”


Bangladesh sink Afghanistan to keep alive World Cup semifinal hopes

Updated 53 min 25 sec ago
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Bangladesh sink Afghanistan to keep alive World Cup semifinal hopes

  • Shakib’s 51 laid the foundations for Bangladesh to score 262-7 and made him the leading run-scorer in this year’s World Cup
  • The 32-year-old then ripped through the Afghan batting line-up with his career-best ODI figures of 5-29 from 10 overs

SOUTHAMPTON: Bangladesh boosted their bid to reach the World Cup semifinals as Shakib Al Hasan’s superb all-round display inspired a 62-run win over Afghanistan on Monday.
Shakib’s 51 laid the foundations for Bangladesh to score 262-7 and made him the leading run-scorer in this year’s World Cup.
The 32-year-old then ripped through the Afghan batting line-up with his career-best ODI figures of 5-29 from 10 overs.
Shakib is only the second player in World Cup history to take five wickets and hit a 50 in the same match after India’s Yuvraj Singh against Ireland in 2011.
Bangladesh, winners against South Africa and the West Indies earlier in the tournament, are up to fifth place in the 10-team group stage.
They sit one point behind fourth-placed England, who face Australia on Tuesday, in the race to seal a semifinal berth via a top-four finish.
Mashrafe Mortaza’s side play India and Pakistan in their final two group matches.
Afghanistan became the first team to be eliminated after an agonizing 11-run loss against India on Saturday, when Mohammed Shami’s final-over hat-trick denied them a famous upset.
Gulbadin Naib’s team have lost all seven of their matches, leaving with two games to avoid finishing the tournament without a single point.
Rahmat Shah and Gulbadin put on 49 for the first wicket, giving Afghanistan hope of a surprise win.
But Shakib’s introduction brought the breakthrough as the spinner weaved his magic.
Rahmat carelessly flicked a flatter delivery to Tamim Iqbal at mid-on and departed for 24.
Just 10 runs came from the next five overs and Hashmatullah Shahidi perished when he tried to accelerate, stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim off Mosaddek Hossain for 11.
Bangladesh had victory in their sights after Shakib took two wickets in the space of four balls.
Gulbadin was removed for 47 after driving low to Liton Das at short extra cover before Mohammad Nabi was bowled through the gate for a duck.
Shakib became the first Bangladesh player to take five wickets in the World Cup when he had Najibullah Zadran stumped.
Earlier, Shakib became the leading run scorer in this year’s World Cup so far as his side posted a solid score after being put into bat.
Shakib’s 51 took him to 476 runs in the tournament, while Mushfiqur top-scored with 83 from 87 balls.
Liton was promoted ahead of Soumya Sarkar to open along with Tamim for Bangladesh, with the pair managing a brisk 23 from the first four overs.
But Liton fell for 16 in the next over after being fooled into a miscued drive by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who finished with 3-39.
That brought Shakib to the crease and he upped the tempo even further with some aggressive hitting that maintained his fine World Cup form.
When Shakib, who has two centuries already in the tournament, pulled Naib to the boundary, it moved him above Australia’s David Warner’s 447 runs.
Tamim and Shakib put on their fourth successive fifty partnership in one-day internationals.
Shakib went on to become only the second player to hit six consecutive 40-plus scores in a World Cup.
Not long after that milestone, Shakib brought up his half-century in 66 balls — his fifth score of 50 or more in this tournament — to huge cheers from the Bangladesh fans who made up the majority of the crowd.
Shakib was unable to turn his solid start into another century, but he would contribute more than enough with the ball to seal the victory.