French soccer team that sold player believed killed in air crash still wants payment

The Argentine striker was on his way to his new team in the U.K. when his plane went down. His former club is demanding the new team still pay the $19.4 million transfer fee.
Image: FBL-FRA-ENG-SALA-ACCIDENT
FC Nantes football club supporters gather in Nantes after it was announced that the plane Argentinian forward Emiliano Sala was flying on vanished during a flight from Nantes in western France to Cardiff in Wales, on January 22, 2019.Loic Venance / AFP - Getty Images

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By David K. Li

A French soccer team — which sold player Emiliano Sala before he was believed killed in transit to his new United Kingdom club — is demanding to be paid, according to broadcast reports Wednesday.

FC Nantes, of France's Ligue 1, has sent a letter to Cardiff City F.C. in Wales, accusing it of failing to pay any of the £15 million ($19.4 million) transfer fee for Sala, Sky Sports News reported.

A banner of Emiliano Sala in the crowd as Nantes plays Saint-Etienne in France on Jan. 30, 2019. Sala disappeared over the English Channel while flying to Wales on Jan. 21.Thibault Camus / AP file

Sala, 28, a striker from Argentina, is believed to have been killed when the Piper Malibu aircraft he was on went missing over the English Channel on Jan. 21.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

Cardiff City has yet to make good on the initial £5 million ($6.5 million) installment, the French team wrote in its letter, according to Sky.

The Premier League side Cardiff City reportedly believes it shouldn't have to pay any of the transfer fee until all investigations of the crash are complete, according to published reports.

A source close to the Welsh club said the team was "surprised" to be asked for the money so soon after Sala's untimely death, BBC reported.

Representatives for both teams could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

The rear left fuselage of the aircraft carrying soccer player Emiliano Sala on Feb. 4, 2019.AAIB / AP

Divers found the plane's wreckage and have spotted at least one body inside the doomed craft, air accident investigators said Monday.

It wasn't immediately clear if the body spotted by underwater cameras was Sala or pilot David Ibbotson, the only two people on board.

"One occupant is visible amidst the wreckage," the U.K. Air Accident Investigation Branch said in a statement. "The AAIB is now considering the next steps, in consultation with the families of the pilot and passenger, and the police."

Associated Press contributed.