The soccer world hopes for Emiliano Sala’s safety but now must prepare for the worst.
The soon-to-be Cardiff City FC striker was one of two people on board a Piper Malibu aircraft that went missing Monday night over the Channel Islands between England and France, according to the BBC. The plane took off from Nantes, France, but disappeared from radar over the English Channel.
Authorities launched a search for the plane Monday night, but had to call it off hours later due to adverse weather conditions. They reportedly now don’t expect to find survivors should they locate the plane.
“I think with the sea temperatures and the sea conditions, the chances of finding anybody alive are reducing all the time,” Channel Islands Air Search chief officer John Fitzgerald told the BBC. “The sea temperatures are very, very cold and just sap the core temperature of anybody in the water very, very quickly.”
Sala, 28, was flying to Wales to complete his reported £15 million ($19 million) transfer from French club Nantes to Cardiff City. The Argentine was expected to sign a 3 1/2-year contract and join his new teammates for practice Tuesday, but the apparent tragedy now has rocked Cardiff City.
“We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing,” Cardiff City CEO Ken Choo said in a statement. “We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and (Tuesday) was due to be his first day with the team.
“We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot. All of us at Cardiff City FC would like to thank our fans, and the entire footballing family, for their support at this difficult time. We continue to pray for positive news.”
Sala had scored a career-high 12 goals in 19 games for Nantes this season. He ranked fifth among French first division goal scorers prior to his transfer.
Cardiff City currently is in 18th place in the Premier League standings with 19 points after 23 games.
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/NBC Sports