Four years after the tragic death of Argentine striker Emiliano Sala in a plane crash near Guernsey on January 21, 2019, Cardiff City FC owner Vincent Tan has put pressure on Sala’s former club, FC Nantes, in an exclusive interview to L’Equipe.
The payment of Sala’s €17m transfer fee is at the heart of a bitter conflict between the Welsh outfit and Les Canaris. Cardiff have denied the authenticity of the transfer agreement. However, FIFA’s player status commission have ordered Cardiff to pay the first instalment of the transfer worth €6m. The Court of Arbitration for Sport have then rejected the appeal lodged by the Championship side to challenge the aforementioned decision.
Last summer, CAS confirmed that Sala’s transfer from Nantes to Cardiff had been “finalised” before his death. The Bluebirds then paid the €6m instalment. “I’m very angry,” says Tan. “We have no choice, we will not stop. This is only the beginning, not the end.” According to the Malaysian businessman, Cardiff have refused to pay Nantes, and will continue to do so with €11m still being owed to Nantes, because Tan considers that the French club should be held accountable for Sala’s death. As a last resort, Cardiff City turned to the Federal Court, the supreme judicial authority of the Swiss Confederation, to overturn the ruling.
If the Federal Court sides with Cardiff, the matter will return to CAS. If not, the Welsh club are ready to sue FC Nantes in a French civil court. Cardiff City want to obtain significant damages and compensation sums for the losses caused by Sala’s death. “We were never able to use the very promising player that we had bought, assessed Tan. Emiliano Sala could have scored the few goals that could have saved us from Championship relegation. This resulted in a £100m loss, at least, for the club. Why should we pay for his entire transfer?”
The Cardiff City owner points to the fact that Nantes negotiated with an unlicensed player agent, Willie McKay, for Sala’s transfer. It was McKay who organized Sala’s flight to Wales. Nantes’ president Waldemar Kita’s lawyers have lamented Cardiff City’s efforts, labelling them as “ridiculous and baseless hardline” and “a vain attempt to forget the decisions of FIFA and CAS unequivocally condemning Cardiff”.
However, on a judicial level, a preliminary investigation opened following a complaint from Cardiff City’s lawyers is still in progress. According to L’Équipe, the matter is now under the jurisdiction of the specialized interregional jurisdiction of Rennes. The latter has a wider field of investigation in this case, which would scrutinize the count of “illegal practice of the profession of sports’ agent.”
GFFN | Bastien Cheval