Search for Emiliano Sala resumes after crowdfunding effort
A new search for the missing Cardiff striker has been launched after more than £250,000 was raised to fund the operation.
An official search and rescue operation for the Piper PA-46 Malibu carrying the Argentinian striker and the pilot David Ibbotson was .
Pleas for the search to resume were made by the 28-year-old player’s family, the Argentinian football stars Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Sergio Agüero, and the Argentinian president, Mauricio Macri.
Donations from footballers including Manchester City’s İlkay Gündoğan helped a GoFundMe drive to raise money for the search to reach a revised target of €300,000 (£259,000).
A statement on the GoFundMe page said: “The call for funds launched late Friday afternoon allowed the relatives of Emiliano Sala, via a specialised organisation, to resume searching in the Channel early Saturday morning. Two boats [will] conduct the operations.”
The football agent Willie McKay to take Sala from Nantes to Cardiff but had no involvement in selecting the plane or pilot.
McKay’s son Mark was the acting agent for Nantes in a move that made Sala a club-record transfer for Cardiff. His other son, Jack, who plays for Cardiff, exchanged a series of text messages with Sala, suggesting a private flight from Cardiff to and then back to south Wales two days later.
McKay senior, who has released those messages, said a commercial flight to the French city would have involved going via Amsterdam.
After signing for Cardiff for £15m, Sala returned to Nantes to collect his belongings and say goodbye to team-mates and staff of the Ligue 1 club before heading back to the UK. However, the plane carrying him disappeared over the Channel on Monday evening.
Cardiff’s staff and supporters will wear yellow daffodils at Arsenal on Tuesday out of respect for Sala, and the club captains will place floral tributes at the ground.
On Saturday tributes were paid to the missing men before games including the FA Cup match between Swansea and Gillingham at the Liberty Stadium and Stoke’s home meeting with Preston in the Championship.