MADRID – The Union of European Football Associations said on Tuesday that all the upcoming UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches to take place this week would pay tribute to the late Argentine forward Emiliano Sala with a minute of silence.
Sala had been declared missing on Jan. 21 after a small plane he was on crashed while flying over the English Channel on its way from Ligue 1 team Nantes to Premier League side Cardiff City, but it was not until Feb. 7 that Sala’s death was confirmed.
“On behalf of everyone at UEFA, I would like to express my sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of Emiliano Sala for their loss,” said UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.
“I am deeply saddened that his life was so cruelly taken away at such a young age and I urge supporters across the continent to pay their respects to his memory over the coming days,” he added.
Meanwhile, the clubs to participate in this week’s games are to wear black armbands in honor of Sala.
On Feb. 7, the United Kingdom’s government agency investigating civil aircraft accidents said a body had been retrieved from the wreckage of a plane identified as the one in which Sala was traveling on before it disappeared.
“The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday 7 February 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala,” police in southwestern England said.
Following the announcement, Nantes said in a statement that Sala, who scored 48 goals over 144 first tier French soccer matches, would have a special place in the history of the club.
Sala and pilot David Ibbotson were the only two occupants of the aircraft that lost contact with air traffic controllers some 24 kilometers (15 miles) north of the Channel Island of Guernsey at 8:23 pm on Jan. 21.
The player was traveling from the French city of Nantes, where he had bid a final farewell to his former teammates at Nantes, to Cardiff in south Wales, where he was to join the local team and begin the next stage of his career in the English Premier League.