Emiliano Sala's family left to grieve after body formally identified

A fan pays tribute to the Argentine striker whose body was found on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 08 February 2019
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Emiliano Sala's family left to grieve after body formally identified

  • “We can now begin to mourn our son and our brother,” Sala's family say in a statement.
  • Argentine footballing idols Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta pay tribute to Sala.

LONDON: Footballer Emiliano Sala’s family are grieving after British authorities formally identified his body as the one recovered from the submerged wreckage of a plane that went down in the Channel more than two weeks ago.
“We can now begin to mourn our son and our brother,” the Argentine Cardiff City striker’s family said in a statement.
“We would like to thank you for all of your signs of affection and support in the most painful time of our life.
“To see everyone doing everything possible to join us in the search has been a precious help to us,” the family said.
Argentine footballing idols Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta also paid tribute to Sala, 28.
The Premier League player’s former French club, Nantes, said it was withdrawing the jersey with Sala’s No. 9 on it and all Ligue 1 and 2 matches in France this weekend will be preceded by a minute of applause for him.
The light aircraft was carrying Sala from Nantes to his new team when it disappeared near the British island of Guernsey, along with 59-year-old pilot David Ibbotson, who has not been found.
The player’s body was first spotted by British rescuers using a remotely operated underwater vehicle on Sunday close to where the plane vanished from radar on Jan. 21.
Investigators recovered the body on Wednesday and transported it to the Isle of Portland in southern England. From there it was taken to Bournemouth where it was formally identified later.
Investigators said they were abandoning plans also to lift the plane wreckage out of the water because of bad weather.
Sala’s disappearance sparked an outpouring of grief and a flood of cash to support a private hunt for the plane when the official search was initially called off.
“I am very sorry about this sad news. Many of us kept a glimmer of hope for you, Emiliano,” footballing superstar Maradona said on Instagram, after the identification of the body.
“What sadness, this is the worst news. Rest in peace warrior,” tweeted retired Argentine football star Batistuta.
The country’s President Mauricio Macri also offered his condolences to Sala’s family following the “painful news.”
“We are with you,” he added.
The small Argentine town of Progreso, where the footballer lived for most of his childhood, was also in mourning.
“Since we found out, it’s all anyone can talk about,” said local restaurant owner Oscar Heymo, a friend of Sala’s father Horacio. “He was very much loved and admired by all.”
Cardiff City on Twitter expressed their “heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano.”
“He and David will forever remain in our thoughts,” they said.
The plane, a Piper PA-46 Malibu, vanished from radar around 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Guernsey.
The discovery of two seat cushions on the French coast last week revealed that the plane had broken apart.
Initial search operations were suspended in the days after it went missing but a crowdfunding effort supported by thousands of donations, including from football stars such as Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, helped launch a private search.
Without the fundraising effort “I don’t think anybody would have searched for the plane,” shipwreck hunter David Mearns, who was hired by the family, told AFP.
The plane wreckage was spotted by a ship hired by the family. Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) then co-ordinated the recovery.
The AAIB said that extensive video footage captured of the sunken wreckage is expected to “provide valuable evidence for our safety investigation.”
It said it intended to publish an interim report on the accident later this month.
Sala was the most expensive signing in Cardiff’s history.
Nantes have consulted lawyers to explore legal options to ensure Cardiff pay the transfer fee for Sala, a source close to the French club said on Wednesday.
According to the source, the first instalment of the 17-million-euro ($19.3 million) deal has yet to be paid, despite the transfer being finalized before the accident.


Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

Updated 19 September 2019

Di Maria scores 2 as PSG beats Madrid in Champions League

  • Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Gueye

PARIS: No Neymar. No Kylian Mbappe. No problem.
With two first-half goals from Angel Di Maria and a rare late strike from right-back Thomas Meunier, a new-look Paris Saint-Germain missing its headline stars brushed aside a flat Real Madrid 3-0 in the Champions League to go top of Group A in an impressive start to its European campaign on Wednesday. 
Di Maria, a Champions League winner with Madrid in 2014, was rampant against his former club, using phenomenal speed and clever placing to torment a Madrid defense sorely missing the suspended Sergio Ramos.
The Argentine's first goal poked past Thibaut Courtois' near post in the 14th minute was his 25th in 100 European matches.
Some of PSG's new recruits were instrumental in the victory. Idrissa Gueye, bought from Everton, bossed the midfield.
Di Maria's opener originated with Mauro Icardi, a late loan-signing from Inter Milan. He linked up smartly with left-back Juan Bernat, who then found Di Maria in space in the box with a swift cut-back pass.
Di Maria doubled the advantage when he struck again in the 33rd minute, found this time by Gueye.
Di Maria caressed a pinpoint shot with his left foot from long range past the outstretched Courtois and celebrated enthusiastically as Paris fans lit red flares.
Gareth Bale thought he'd got a goal back moments later with a sweet volley over former Madrid teammate Keylor Navas, bought by Paris to provide added assurance behind the suffocating PSG defense that snuffed out Madrid at the Parc des Princes.
But referee Anthony Taylor spotted on video replay that the Wales winger had touched the ball with his right arm as he juggled it from his left foot to his right one before shooting.
Meunier's goal in second-half injury time was only his sixth in 48 European matches. Bernat's pass set up the strike. Up in the posh seats, the suspended Neymar and Mbappe, recovering from injury, chuckled together at the sight of the full-backs combining to score. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane scowled.
Zidane lamented the lack of urgency from his side that had zero shots on target other than Bale's disallowed goal and another disallowed for offside in the second half.
"It was a weird sensation," he said, speaking through a translator. "We hardly ever got into the match."
Zidane refrained from singling out any player, saying "it's everybody's fault when we lose."
But James Rodriguez, back from Bayern Munich, was particularly ineffective. And Eden Hazard, bought from Chelsea, looked ring-rusty as he makes his way back from injury. A trademark dribble in the PSG area in the second half ended with Hazard tripping over himself and landing on his backside.
Zidane replaced them both with 20 minutes to play.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, on the other hand, had no problem singling out Gueye for praise. He clicked with Marco Verratti and the deeper-lying Marquinhos in the PSG midfield that purred as if they'd played together for years.
"He's a machine. He never stops, never stops running," Tuchel said. "Against a team like Madrid, that is super-important."
Tuchel suggested the absence of Neymar, Mbappe and PSG's record scorer Edinson Cavani, also recovering from injury, may have been a help rather than a hindrance.
Without them, outside observers figured PSG was unlikely to win, and that eased pressure on Tuchel's other players, the coach said.
When Neymar has served out the rest of his two-match ban, and Mbappe and Cavani are fit again, expectations will quickly rise in the wake of this humbling of Madrid that showed the strength in depth of PSG's expensively assembled team.
But PSG knows from bitter experience how hard the road will become in the Champions League, having failed to get beyond the quarterfinals since the club's wealthy Qatari owners took over in 2011.
Tuchel was eager to tamp down any buzz.
"If someone asks me if we are going to win the Champions League, I'm leaving," he said.