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'I'm not dead' - player killed off by club says he finds it a 'bit funny'

Worker thought team might say he had broken leg

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A minute’s silence was held before all Leinster Senior League matches after reports Fernando Lafuente died

A minute’s silence was held before all Leinster Senior League matches after reports Fernando Lafuente died

A minute’s silence was held before all Leinster Senior League matches after reports Fernando Lafuente died

A Spanish man who was "killed off" after a Dublin football club falsely claimed he had died in a car crash has 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, said a player had died on the way home from training last Thursday.

It emerged on Tuesday that the player, Fernando Lafuente, was in fact alive and kicking.

He said he first found out he was "dead" after reading social media reports.

"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 RTE Radio One.

"They told me I was a celebrity and I asked them 'Why is that?'

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Fernando Lafuente

Fernando Lafuente

Fernando Lafuente

"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 said 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 an accident, but that he thought "it would be a breaking a leg kind of accident".

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

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," Mr Lafuente said.

Excuse

"It's serious on their part but I'm finding it a little bit funny because basically I'm not dead.

"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 for the club 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," he said.

"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 the team were afraid of Arklow, Mr Lafuente said he believed they wanted the game called off because they didn't have enough players.

"I don't think they were afraid. I think maybe they had a rough time getting players," he said.

"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 planned to go back to Spain over Christmas, but hoped to return to playing football in Galway in the New Year.

Ballybrack FC were due to play Arklow on Saturday, but the game was called off as a mark of respect after the hoax death was reported.

In a statement yesterday, Leinster Senior League chairman David Moran said it was in "regular contact" with the club.

"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," he said.

"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.

Privacy

"The league would like to thank the many players, teams, officials and volunteers who reached out regarding the wellbeing 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."

Ballybrack FC have blamed the incident on a "gross error of judgment".

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

"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."


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