UPDATED Feb. 8, 11:30 a.m. ET: Cardiff City player Emiliano Sala’s body was identified this week after a Jan. 21 plane crash over the English channel. The 28-year-old Argentine "was spotted in the wreckage of the plane on Monday [Feb. 4] and the authorities were able to recover it two days later, despite ‘challenging conditions,’” the BBC writes.
Cardiff City sent out a statement after Sala was identified: ”We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano. He and David will forever remain in our thoughts."
The search has reportedly ended for pilot David Ibbotson.
See original story below.
On Tuesday, Jan. 22, France's Civil Aviation Authority reported that star soccer player Emiliano Sala was one of the passengers aboard a light aircraft that disappeared while crossing the English Channel.
Late Monday, Jan. 21, while flying from his native Nantes, France to England, Sala's plane lost radar signal close to the English Channel island of Guernsey. This prompted both French and British authorities to send rescue boats and air crafts to search for the missing plane. However, after searching more than 1,000 square miles, there is still no trace of the single-engine vessel.
The 28-year-old Sala was traveling to his first practice with the Cardiff City FC. This was a highly publicized occasion as the club lured the legendary French player away from his beloved Nantes FC with a $19 million contract. Because of his iconic status, many public officials, like the mayor of Sala's hometown, have issued statements about his disappearance. In addition, the French Soccer Federation postponed Nantes' French Cup match Wednesday, while Cardiff City canceled their training sessions.
"We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team. We continue to pray for positive news," Cardiff City CEO Ken Choo said. Sala's former FC added they are "staying hopeful" and "praying for Emiliano Sala and the other passengers to be found safe and sound."
Outside of notable figures issuing their concerns and optimism, Sala's family has made it clear that they are just as hurt about Sala's disappearance as their son's fans. "I didn’t know anything because I’m away from home," Sala's father Horacio told the media. "I’m a truck driver. A friend who saw it on TV told me. I’m in despair."
Sala's celebrity status has many looking for constant rescue updates leading authorities to be realistic with the media about the outcome of their search efforts.
"From what I gather, nothing has been seen as yet. If they are wearing the right dry suits or they got into a life raft, then the probability is not too bad," chief executive of Channel Islands Air Search John Fitzgerald told Sky TV before adding that their chances of survival significantly decreases if they are not fully equipped.