Rennes (France) (AFP) – Nantes announced on Sunday that they will pay tribute to their former striker Emiliano Sala at the league match against his first French club, Bordeaux, on January 26.
The 28-year-old player was killed on January 21, 2019, when the small plane taking him to join Cardiff City crashed off the British island of Guernsey.
The Argentine had been transferred to the Welsh club, in the Premier League at the time, after three-and-half seasons at Nantes.
Sala had arrived in France as a youngster to join Bordeaux, who loaned him out to Orleans, Niort and Caen. He then moved to Nantes where he was the club’s top scorer for three straight seasons.
«Emiliano was a talented player, warm and human. We all miss him,» Nantes said in a statement.
In homage to the player who «dreamed of playing for the Albiceleste», Nantes will don a jersey inspired by the colours of the Argentine national shirt. Proceeds from sales will go to the two Argentine clubs where Sala played as a youngster.
A canvas featuring Sala will be laid in the centre circle as the players warm-up and giant screens will display images of his best moments in yellow.
Groups of fans will spread a giant banner in the stands and sing the song with which they celebrated each of Sala’s goals, before a minute of applause.
There are still unresolved issues surrounding the player’s death, such as who was responsible for the crash in which pilot David Ibottson also died, and, above all, the payment of the 17-million-euro ($18.85 million) fee agreed for his transfer.
In September, FIFA, the governing body of world football, ordered Cardiff, relegated last summer to the Championship, to pay the first instalment of 6 million euros. But the Welsh club has taken the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose decision is not expected until June.