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Dublin football club player 'alive and well' in Spain after being reported dead by his team

Ballybrack FC said the person behind the correspondence has been “relieved of all footballing duties”.

Updated Nov 27th 2018, 9:15 PM

shutterstock_582253678 Source: Shutterstock/matimix

THE CHAIRMAN OF the Leinster Senior Football League has said it was incorrectly informed by one of its clubs that a player had died in a car crash, only for it to learn days later from the player’s family that he had simply returned to Spain as planned. 

Ballybrack FC told league officials last Friday that one of its players, Spanish third-level student Fernando Nuno La-Fuente, had died in a car accident as he left training the previous evening. 

David Moran, the chairman of the amateur league, told TheJournal.ie that he later learned the crash had not happened and that the man had simply flown home to Spain. 

Players in the league observed a minute’s silence and wore black armbands in support of the man’s family at all matches over the weekend. 

Moran said the affair was a “disgrace” and brought the “whole league into disrepute”.

“We were informed on Friday morning that a young lad had passed away. So, yesterday the we asked the secretary for the league to find out when the funeral was or what was happening so we could send a representative of the league and make sure the family was alright for a few bob,” Moran said. 

We got a call back saying that his body had been sent back to Spain and that’s when the alarm bells rang. I was saying ‘what do you mean?’. They wouldn’t have been able to do an autopsy or whatever in that time.

“We started investigating it yesterday and then I got a call saying that he had just left to go home to Spain. I’m delighted the young lad’s alive but I’m absolutely dumbfounded by what’s going on.”

Moran said there would be an investigation of the club. 

Ballybrack FC were due to play a match against Arklow on Saturday, but the game was called off as a mark of respect. 

‘Glad to hear that the player is in good health’

The Leinster Senior League also released a statement from Moran about the incident to its media partner Herald Striker. 

“The Leinster Senior League would like to acknowledge that the notification of the death of a Ballybrack FC player as shared with all member clubs and media partner is, without foundation,” the statement said. 

“The Leinster Senior League acted in good faith at all times and when notified by a representative of Ballybrack FC as to the death of a member player we immediately offered our heartfelt condolences and also shared the sad news with all other LSL clubs in order for them to offer their own individual condolences. 

We are glad to hear that the player is in good health and has returned to his native Spain.

“The Leinster Senior League will cooperate with all relevant agencies in the investigation of this matter and the league will also deal with this issue through their own internal disciplinary procedures.

“The Leinster Senior League would like to offer their sincerest apologies for any distress caused as a result of notifying the clubs as to the demise of a valued player

“The league acted in absolute good faith with the information supplied by the club and only had the welfare and interest of those affected by the reported ‘tragedy’ as our uppermost concern at all times.”

‘A gross error of judgement’

In a statement released tonight, Ballybrack Football Club described the incident as “a gross error of judgement”.

The club said an emergency meeting was held this evening and the person behind the correspondence, who is a member of the senior set-up management team, 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, wellbeing and are thankful for his acceptance of our apology on this matter.

This grave and unacceptable mistake was completely out of character…

“The club will continue to provide a duty of care to all parties and offer the support that may be needed at this time. This person had previously contributed greatly to the senior team within the club in recent years and to the wider footballing community across Dublin for decades.”

The club also offered its “sincere apologies to the Leinster Senior League, our opponents Arklow Town FC and the host of clubs and football people who made contact with us or offered messages of support in recent days”.

“The past few years has seen good progress made in regards to renewal of senior football in the Ballybrack area. We are all taken aback by this event and hope to try work with all relevant organisations and agencies to learn from this mistake,” the statement added. 

With reporting by Órla Ryan

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Daragh Brophy

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