Emiliano Sala case – CAS rejects Cardiff City FC appeal

On 26th August, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected the appeal filed by Cardiff City Football Club (Cardiff City FC) against the Football Club of Nantes (FC Nantes) following the decision issued by the FIFA Players’ Status Committee Bureau on 25th September 2019.

As a reminder, the Argentine player Emiliano Sala had tragically died when his plane crashed, shortly after leaving Nantes to join Cardiff, where he had just signed up.

The payment of the transfer fee amounts to 17 million euros, including a deposit of 6 million euros already due at the time of the opening of the procedure. Cardiff City FC contested this amount by filing an appeal with the CAS on 20th November 2019.

Although the arbitration procedure was launched quickly, it was repeatedly delayed by the parties, who wanted the hearing to take place in person. The hearing finally took place on 3rd and 4th March 2022.

The CAS found that the transfer had been “finalised” before the player’s death. Considering the conditions of the transfer contract had been fulfilled before the player’s death, the claim of FC Nantes for the first instalment of 6 million euros was accepted.

Although the Nantes club is pleased that the procedure is “finally closed”, the Welsh club does not want to leave it at that and plans to appeal again. If this new procedure fails, Cardiff will consider suing those responsible for the accident to obtain compensation for its losses.

For the record, David Henderson, the organiser of the flight that claimed the lives of the footballer and the pilot of the plane in January 2019, was convicted in October 2021 of endangering the safety of an aircraft and had been sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Welsh courts. He had indeed entrusted the transport to David Ibbotson, who did not have a commercial pilot’s license, whose qualification for this type of aircraft had expired and who was not competent to fly at night.

The case is not closed and we can still expect some twists and turns.