Friday 20 September 2019

'It was last night I found out I was dead' - Ballybrack footballer 'killed off' to postpone game speaks out

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
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

A Spanish national who was “killed off” after a Dublin football club falsely told league officials he had died in a car crash said that while he understands it is a serious matter, he finds it a "little bit funny".

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

It emerged last night that the player, Fernando Lafuente Saiz, was not in fact dead.

Mr Lafuente Saiz said he first found out he was 'dead' after reading social media reports last night.

“I was at home, just finished work and playing some video games when suddenly I got a call from work saying, 'what’s happened,'” he told Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning.

“They told me I was a celebrity and I asked them ‘why is that’. They started sending me all of these news articles and that’s how I found out I was dead last night.”

A member of the mobile app team at Glofox, Mr Lafuente claimed that he became suspicious after he was removed from a group chat with the team on Saturday.

He said he was aware they may post something about him being in accident, but that he thought “it would be a breaking a leg kind of accident”.

The Spanish native, who has been living in Ireland for almost a year, said that the club apologised to him straight after he contacted them.

His wife, who has been living in Ireland with him but went back to Spain this week, had seen some of the social media posts- but his mother had not.

“When I saw the news, I wrote to them, they got straight back, and apologised. It's serious on their part but I'm finding it a little bit funny because basically I'm not dead',” he said.

“My wife had some Facebook fuss but she already knew everything. I had to call my mum straight away and she basically didn't know anything.

"She saw this morning my photo on all the newspapers. I haven't spoken with her yet because she didn't answer any of the messages I sent”."

Despite the mix up, Mr Lafuente said playing with the team earlier this year was a “great experience” and believes that the decision to “kill him off” was not supported by the whole team.

“I wasn’t one of the best players, I was the lower tier kind of guy. There was a really good vibe there, the coaching team was exceptional.

“It was a great experience. I had just moved here, I didn’t have any close relationships with anyone in Dublin. 

“I spoke with them and I’m sure it was a one-man decision. They're a group of guys and I don’t think they would all agree on this kind of excuse.”

When asked if they were afraid of playing Arklow, Mr Lafuente said he believes it is because they didn’t have enough players.

“I don’t think they were afraid, I think maybe they had a rough time getting players. They don’t play professional, most of them have regular jobs, some work in the UK or at university, people moving to other countries. I think that was it, I don’t think it was anything major.”

Mr Lafuente said he plans on returning to Spain over Christmas, but hopes to return to football in Galway in the New Year.

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 an updated statement this morning, chairman of the Leinster Senior League David Moran said that they are in “regular contact” with the club and are assisting the members involved.

“The Leinster Senior League will not be making any further public statements regarding the issue with Ballybrack FC, as the focus is now on assisting the individuals involved.

“The League has been in regular contact with the club and has been offering support to the individuals who made the error regarding a recent fixture.

“The League would like to thank the many players, teams, officials, and volunteers who reached out regarding the well-being of a Ballybrack player, but would kindly ask that privacy is now afforded to both the League and club to deal with the ongoing matter.”

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