Friday 20 September 2019

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

Players observing a minute's silence at the weekend
Players observing a minute's silence at the weekend
(stock picture)

Ian Begley and Catherine Devine

A Dublin football club admitted that a "gross error of judgment" led to fake reports of a player's death.

Ballybrack FC's weekend match was called off after claims that player Fernando Nuno La-Fuente was killed in a car crash on his way home from training last Thursday.

The Leinster Senior League side are now at the centre of an investigation, as it since emerged that the Spanish national is not in fact dead.

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

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

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

Condolences and tributes from other Dublin soccer clubs also flooded social media.

But yesterday it emerged that the player was alive, although had apparently moved away from the Dublin area recently.

The club issued a statement confirming that an emergency meeting had been held to discuss the matter.

It said that in relation to the incident, a club member had been "relieved of all footballing duties, within Ballybrack FC, its senior team and roles within the club itself".

"The club has contacted Fernando to confirm his whereabouts, well-being and are thankful for his acceptance of our apology on this matter.

"This grave and unacceptable mistake was completely out of character", it added.

"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."

Meanwhile David Moran, the chairman of the Leinster Senior League, said that there would be an investigation.

"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." It apologises for any distress caused.

"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."

Before the revelation came to light, the league put a notice of the death in the 'Herald', offering 'heartfelt condolences'.

Ballybrack's future in the Leinster Senior League will now be decided after the internal disciplinary procedures are completed.

Mr Moran last night added: "It all unravelled yesterday morning when we rang the club. I wanted someone from the league at the funeral service but was told that Fernando'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."

Irish Independent

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