The tragedy surrounding Sala’s death

Emiliano Sala The departure of the Argentine striker shadowed the lives of his relatives, as well as created many transfer problems for the parties involved.

The Guardian once confirmed that Emiliano Sala‘s death exposed the dark side of football, where the players became victims of storks or financial pressures.

Emiliano Sala
Emiliano Sala

Sala’s death made public opinion and fans mourn

Accident is anticipated

“We have a record contract,” Cardiff CEO Ken Choo told his subordinates. On January 19, 2019, Cardiff announced the successful recruitment of striker Emiliano Sala from the Nantes club for more than nearly $ 19 million. It was the highest-valued player deal the Welsh club has made in history.

Sala completed a medical examination and took a picture with the new club shirt, then flew back to France to say goodbye to the old club. Two days later, Sala was on a flight from Nantes to Wales to be in time for his first training session with Cardiff. On the way, the plane carrying the Argentinian striker fell into the sea.

The Guardian recounted Sala initially hesitant onboarding that fateful flight. Before the accident, he sent a message to his friends to inform the situation. The striker felt panicked. “Hey guys, I’m on the plane going to Cardiff, and I feel like it’s about to fall,” Sala texted in a group chat with friends.

The sun is about to set in Nantes at 17h50. 40 minutes later, Sala and pilot David Ibbotson departed for Wales. The flight schedule is expected to end at 19h15. By 20:12, the plane carrying Sala and the air traffic control tower lost contact. 3 minutes later, the plane fell into the sea.

After the search efforts, police finally discovered the body of striker Emiliano Sala after more than 2 weeks missing. The “The Pipper Malibu” plane carrying Sala and pilot Ibbotson was found off Alderney waters.

British pilot David Henderson has been detained on allegations of manslaughter. David Henderson was the one who signed up to fly the plane carrying striker Sala.

However, this man later left Mr. Dave Ibbotson, the pilot who died, to fly the plane on his behalf. David Ibbotson is not allowed to fly at night because of color blindness. The Piper Malibu aircraft also does not meet safety standards for commercial use.

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More than a year later, the twists and turns of the tragic accident continue to unravel. A report from the British Flight Safety Investigation (AAIB) said pilot David Ibbotson lost control of the plane while carrying the plane carrying Sala. At the time of the accident, the aircraft was moving at high speed to avoid bad weather.

Ibbotson has no commercial flight license and has not completed night flight training. In addition, the 59-year-old pilot is said to have a driver’s license but is not qualified to control the aircraft used for passenger transport.

Emiliano Sala
Emiliano Sala

The Piper Malibu plane was used by pilot David Ibbotson to carry Sala.

The dark side of the football industry

The news of Sala’s accident struck Cardiff like a tsunami. The club, currently playing in the Premier League, arranged an epic debut for their record signing. Sala’s flight did not arrive. Cardiff coach Warnock called McKay, who was in charge of the deal.

In the football world of fog, McKay is a bloody face. Since the 90s of the last century, this entrepreneur has plunged into player transfers in the Premier League to earn a commission. The bankruptcy in 2015 prevented him from being regarded as an official player representative by FIFA.

McKay became an unlisted consultant for the deal. He received a 10% commission for the money Cardiff spent on Sala, about $ 1.9 million. His son, Mark Kay, is the representative on the side who presided over the transfer of Sala.

In the email McKay sent directly to Sala revealed by L’Equipe, the 60-year-old stork showed signs of being obsessed with the Argentine striker to be in Cardiff on time. “We have arranged a plane for you. The club will pick you up on a private plane, tonight or tomorrow night,” McKay wrote.

McKay even advised Sala to fire the current agent. If the player did that, his mother could receive more than $ 1 million in the transfer.

The safety of the plane carrying Sala is probably McKay’s last priority in this transfer. Dave Henderson, who was originally hired by McKay to take Sala back to Ibbotson. Ibbotson’s main job is not to be a pilot. The man who drove Sala to Cardiff spends most of his life fixing the gas pipes.

Sala never seemed to decide to choose to leave for Cardiff on that ill-fated flight, but he was pressured,” Maximiliano Duarte, Sala’s friend, told América Noticias. Things could have been different if Sala had flown on another normal civil flight.

Emiliano Sala
Emiliano Sala

Romina, Sala’s sister, was hurt by the death of her brother.


Shortly after the news of Sala’s death appeared in the media, Cardiff’s leadership team held an emergency meeting. Not only did this club lose the opportunity to add an important striker to the relegation of the Premier League, they also faced financial troubles.

On the same day, the police found Sala’s body, Cardiff received a request to transfer money from Nantes. The Welsh club refused. They asked for clarification of all losses in the transfer, including the flight of fate mentioned above.

Cardiff’s team of lawyers seems to believe the club may or may not pay a portion of the transfer for a player they have no opportunity to use.

Nantes refutes that. The French club confirmed the contract between the parties was signed before he made a fateful flight. He was a Cardiff player before that accident.

Legal disputes broke out between the two clubs. Cardiff’s lawyers referred to Nantes as a “money-obsessed” and “disgusting stink”. Meanwhile, the French club believes they must receive the full amount of the transfer, not missing a penny. In its history, Nantes has not sold as much money as Sala.

By the end of 2019, FIFA issued a judgment requiring Cardiff to pay more than $ 6 million in the first payment in the transfer to Nantes. The Wales club may be banned for three transfer periods if not done so.

Cardiff announced it would sue to the Sports Arbitration Court (CAS). They believe that McKay must take financial responsibility for this deal, as the player’s third owner. Nantes rejected the argument. The French club insists that McKay and his son are only intermediaries in the deal between the two clubs. Nantes has nothing to do with Sala’s flight.

Three months after Sala’s death, his father Horacio died after a heart attack at the age of 58. Family friends told Mr. Horacio to never recover after his son’s death.

Daniel Machover, a lawyer hired by the Sala family after the accident, recounted that the pain of loss may never go away with relatives of the striker Tango. He is the breadwinner, their pride. Before the day he was recruited by Cardiff, Sala rejected a huge offer from China for “always wanting to play in the Premier League”.

Sala’s big dream as a footballer did not come true. His tragedy is one of the dark points of the football industry full of money.