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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 25 April, 2019
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Over €325,000 raised for private search to find missing footballer Emiliano Sala

The official search for Sala and pilot David Ibbotson was called off last week.

nantes A man cries as supporters gather to pay tribute to Emiliano Sala in Nantes, western France, last week. Source: David Vincent/AP/Press Association Images

MEMBERS OF THE public have helped raised over €325,000 to fund a private search for missing footballer Emiliano Sala.

The 28-year-old Argentinian striker and pilot David Ibbotson remain missing after the small plane on which they were travelling disappeared from radar around 20km north of Guernsey last Monday night.

Sala, who had just transferred from French club Nantes to Cardiff City for a reported fee of €17 million, was flying from the French city to Cardiff.

Guernsey Police called off the official search for the men, the only two occupants on the plane, on Thursday. They said the chances of finding the men were “extremely remote”.

In an emotional appeal the same day, Sala’s sister Romina said “please, don’t stop the search”.

“At the moment, the only thing we want, because there are two families desperate to have news about the whereabouts of those two people, so don’t stop the search for that,” she told reporters. 

Nantes coach Vahid Halilhodzic said on Friday it was “disgraceful” the search had been called off as he knew “in his heart” Sala was still alive.

On Saturday, Sala’s family launched a private search in a bid to find the men. Two boats are leading the operations. 

The initial goal of the online fundraiser set up by Sala’s loved ones was €150,000, but this was quickly reached so the figure was doubled to €300,000.

This figure has now also been surpassed, with over €325,000 raised by more than 4,400 people at the time of publication. 

Sala’s family and friends thanked the public for their “exceptional generosity, in a drama that goes far beyond football”. 

Contains reporting from © AFP 2019  

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Órla Ryan

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