FIFA orders Cardiff to pay Nantes £5.3million of Sala fee

Cardiff have been ordered to pay the first instalment of the transfer fee for Emiliano Sala, who died before he could play a single game for the Welsh club.

The Argentinian, 28, died when the light aircraft he was travelling in from France to the UK crashed into the English Channel on January 21 of this year, two days after the Bluebirds, then in the Premier League, had announced his signing from French club Nantes.

His body was found and recovered from the wreckage of the aircraft in February. The pilot, David Ibbotson, is still missing.

Floral tributes to Sala were left outside the Cardiff City Stadium
Floral tributes to Sala were left outside the Cardiff City Stadium (Ben Birchall/PA)

Nantes demanded that Cardiff should pay the first instalment of the overall £15million transfer fee, equating to six million euros or £5.3million, something the Welsh club contest on the grounds that Sala’s revised contract was not signed and that his playing registration was not complete.

The case ended up at FIFA’s players’ status committee, which announced on Monday that Cardiff must pay the first instalment.

The committee’s statement read: “In a meeting held on September 25, 2019, the FIFA players’ status committee established that Cardiff must pay Nantes the sum of 6,000,000 euros, corresponding to the first instalment due in accordance with the transfer agreement concluded between the parties on January 19, 2019 for the transfer of the late Emiliano Sala from Nantes to Cardiff.

“The FIFA players’ status committee, which never lost sight of the specific and unique circumstances of this tragic situation during its deliberations on the dispute at stake, refrained from imposing procedural costs on the parties.

“The findings of the decision were notified to the parties concerned today. Within a deadline of 10 days, Cardiff and Nantes can request a copy of the grounds of the decision, which can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.”

Cardiff released a statement in response to the judgement, seeking clarification before deciding whether to appeal.

The statement released to the PA news agency read: “Cardiff City FC acknowledges the decision announced today by FIFA’s players’ status committee regarding the transfer of Emiliano Sala.

“We will be seeking further clarification from FIFA on the exact meaning of their statement in order to make an informed decision on our next steps.”

It has been reported that the judgement also compels Cardiff to pay the other instalments in the deal when they fall due, but FIFA could not confirm this when contacted by PA owing to “confidentiality reasons”.

A report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) which was published in August found that Sala had a high concentration of carbon monoxide in his bloodstream prior to the plane crash.

A still image from video of the wreckage of the aircraft which had carried Emiliano Sala
A still image from video of the wreckage of the aircraft which had carried Emiliano Sala (Air Accidents Investigation Branch/Handout)

Representatives of Cardiff, including manager Neil Warnock, attended Sala’s funeral in Argentina in February.

Warnock said at the time: “Things like this don’t happen in football. I have been a manager nearly 40 years and I’ve never known anything like this.

“It has been so emotional. People say ‘he never played for you’ but he was my player. I chased him, I wanted him.

“He was my type of player – a scruffy player with a big heart. As a person I don’t know anyone who has a bad word to say about him.”

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