Cape Town - An Irish football club have admitted they falsely reported a player’s death so they could have a game called off. Leinster Senior League side, Ballybrack FC, now face punishment after falsely claiming that Fernando Nuno La Fuente had died in a traffic accident last Thursday.
That announcement let to tributes from various clubs across the league, while a minute's silence was held during all weekend games in his honour.
However, after reports emerged confirming that Fernando was indeed live and well, and back in his home country of Spain – the club released a statement apologising for “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 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 and was made by a person who has been experiencing severe personal difficulties unbeknownst to any other members of the club.
The club also offered apologies to Leinster Senior League, and their opponents Arklow Town.
According to Leinster Senior League chairman, David Moran, the club concocted the story in order to get their clash against Arklow called off.
“We get calls from clubs saying that somebody connected to the club has died and they need a game called off all the time and there is never any hassle about it,” he told The Irish Times. “But things started to unravel here when we followed up on Monday to see if we could get in touch with the lad’s family and see if there was anything we could do. They said the body was already back in Spain which didn’t really add up.
“We rang and we couldn’t get any answers out of them. We checked the hospitals, we checked everywhere. Nobody could find anything about this young fella. Obviously, some of his team-mates released stuff on social media saying he went back to Spain four weeks ago.
“We don’t honestly know why they did it. It seems a bit extreme to do something like that to get a game off. All they had to say was they were giving a walkover and they’ll get their fine and that’s the end of it. It’s a shocking thing to do to get a game of football called off.
“We had a minute’s silence at all the other games and the players wore black armbands. You have to have something wrong with you to do something like that.The league and the club will now meet on Thursday to discuss what punishment should be handed down. Moran said,
“One of the first things we’ll have to do is figure out what rules they broke. We’ve never had anything like this before.”
Sources: Football 365, Irish times, RTE