Sunday 15 September 2019

Club apologises as fake report of footballer's road death leads to match being called off

Liffey Wanderers FC posted this picture on Facebook of teams observing a minute's silence in memory of the Ballybrack player who was reported to have died
Liffey Wanderers FC posted this picture on Facebook of teams observing a minute's silence in memory of the Ballybrack player who was reported to have died
(stock picture)

Ian Begley and Catherine Devine

An investigation has been launched after a Dublin football club falsely told league officials a player was killed in a car crash.

Ballybrack FC, who play in the Leinster Senior League, claimed that a player died on the way home from training last Thursday.

It has since emerged that the player, who is a Spanish national, is not in fact dead.

Gardai also confirmed to that there were no fatal accidents in the area on Thursday night.

Players in the league observed a minute’s silence and wore black armbands in support of the man’s family at all matches over the weekend.

Ballybrack FC were due to play a match against Arklow on Saturday, but the game was called off as a mark of respect.

It has been suggested that the club falsely reported the death as they were unable to field a team.

In a statement released tonight, David Moran, the Chairman of the Leinster Senior League said that there would be an investigation into the club.

"The Leinster Senior League would like to acknowledge that the notification of the death of a Ballybrack FC player as shared with all member clubs and media partners, is, without foundation. 

“The Leinster Senior League acted in good faith at all times and when notified by a representative of Ballybrack FC as to the death of a member player we immediately offered our heartfelt condolences and also shared the sad news with all other LSL clubs in order for them to offer their own individual condolences."

The statement went on to say: "We are glad to hear that the player is in good health and has returned to his native Spain. 

"The Leinster Senior League will co-operate with all relevant agencies in the investigation of this matter and the League will also deal with this issue through their own internal disciplinary procedures.

"The Leinster Senior League would like to offer their sincerest apologies for any distress caused as a result of notifying clubs as to the demise of a valued player. 

"The league acted in absolute good faith with the information supplied by the club and only had the welfare and interest of those affected by the reported 'tragedy' as our uppermost concern at all times.”

Mr Moran said that the false reports "unraveled" when the league rang the club to ask about funeral arrangements.

“I wanted someone from the league at the funeral service but was told that the player's body was flown home to Spain on Saturday.

“Immediately, alarm bells began to ring because there was no way arrangements like that could be made so soon after his death. 

“Then, one of his friend’s came out to say he went back to Spain four weeks ago. To use a young man like this is nothing but outrageous.”

Ballybrack’s future in the Leinster Senior League is believed to be in doubt and will be decided after the internal disciplinary procedures are completed.

This evening, Ballybrack FC issued a statement saying there was a "gross error of judgement".

"It has come to the attention of both the club, senior players and the management team that a gross error of judgement has occurred emanating from correspondence sent from a member of the senior set up management team to the Leinster Senior League.

"As of this evening an emergency meeting was held and the person in question has been relieved of all footballing duties, within Ballybrack FC, its senior team and roles within the club itself. The club has contacted (the player) to confirm his whereabouts, wellbeing and are thankful for his acceptance of our apology on this matter."

The club continued to say that the error was a "grave and unacceptable mistake".

"At this stage we can only offer our sincere apologies to the Leinster Senior League, our opponents Arklow Town FC and the host of clubs and football people who made contact with us or offered messages of support in recent days.

"The past few years has seen good progress made in regards to renewal of senior football in the Ballybrack area. We are all taken aback by this event and hope to try work with all relevant organisations and agencies to learn from this mistake."

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