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Football seems to think no lessons can be learned from Sala’s death

Once upon a time, there seemed to be so much urgency that the death of Emiliano Sala, a pawn in football’s filthy transfer game, would bring some sort of change.

Next week it will be two years since the woefully inadequate plane crashed with him. We are still waiting.

Cardiff City, who had taken him over from Nantes, are still fighting tooth and nail to not pay the French club a cent. Football authorities do not seem to believe there are lessons to be learned and shared about what happens when young players arrive on these shores alone. A trust fund in the player’s name has yet to be established.

Emiliano Sala holds up a Cardiff City shirt after agreeing to compete in January 2019 for £ 15m

Emiliano Sala holds up a Cardiff City shirt after agreeing to compete in January 2019 for £ 15m

Sala died on January 21, 2019, after a plane with him to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel

Sala died on January 21, 2019, after a plane with him to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel

Sala died on January 21, 2019, after a plane with him to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel

The apparent conclusion by governing bodies and players’ organizations that Sala’s death was just one of those things has barely been noticed. But it is actually a misconception.

Cardiff was wealthy enough to spend £ 15m on the player in January 2019, making several middlemen considerably richer in the bargain. Enough money sloshed to make sure that Sala, a single man in Cardiff who spoke almost no English in the days when his death was approaching, actually had someone on hand.

“It may sound strange, but he had left his dog in a kennel in Nantes and was wondering how to get back to him,” said Christian Martin, an Argentine broadcaster and journalist who got to know Sala well.

He was desperate to come back. If someone could have just found a helper for him in Cardiff, someone who spoke his language, I think it would have helped. ‘

Sala took a charter flight home instead of the regular services Cardiff offered – via Paris or Amsterdam. He said yes to the pilot’s fateful request to suspend departure time and fly back to Cardiff through the dark.

Cardiff is aiming to finally launch a £ 2 million trust fund in the name of Sala by the end of the month

Cardiff is aiming to finally launch a £ 2 million trust fund in the name of Sala by the end of the month

Cardiff is aiming to finally launch a £ 2 million trust fund in the name of Sala by the end of the month

Those who do not believe that human compassion and thoughtfulness can play a role will say that Sala was an adult; responsible for his own decisions. So let’s say, before the naysayers jump in, maybe there is a case like that to be made. But even taking that fire-hearted perspective, it’s hard to feel anything but bewilderment for Sala’s family.

For a long time they struggled to accept the idea that their son and brother were really dead. When the truth finally came to light, the family envisioned the business being settled, responsibility taken and some sort of reckoning done. Instead, the clubs considered themselves the injured sides and fought each other over the technicalities of whose player Sala was.

His family seemed much more reserved on the issue of money. Martin recalls Horacio Sala, the player’s father, who hesitantly called him a few times to see if there was anything left. He was divorced from Sala’s mother, Mercedes Taffarel, and she received demands for legal costs.

Four months after the plane crash, Sala Snr was also dead. Killed when his heart gave out. “I think he was consumed with guilt,” says Martin. “He never got around to saying goodbye to his son.”

If anything good comes out of the whole regretful story, it will be a £ 2 million trust fund set up in the name of Emiliano – Cardiff’s idea, in all fairness – although that’s also bogged down in legal bickering.

A man holds a photo as he pays tribute to Sala in front of the La Beaujoire stadium in Nantes

A man holds a photo as he pays tribute to Sala in front of the La Beaujoire stadium in Nantes

A man holds a photo as he pays tribute to Sala in front of the La Beaujoire stadium in Nantes

The idea was that the Trust could finance a sports stadium, in the name of the player, in his hometown – Cululu in Santa Fe province in northeast Argentina. Another fitting legacy would certainly be the funding of a support system for players only abroad after a transfer, as was Sala.

But there was a challenging demand that several attorneys representing the club, the family and the fund’s administrators be brought together to establish it. The Argentinean lawyer first appointed by the family proved unyielding and demanded control. Eight months were lost before he was replaced by an Argentinian run. Progress has been easier ever since.

A good working relationship between Cardiff City and London lawyers Hickman & Rose, who will represent the family in the player’s inquiries, has also helped. Work on the project effectively resumed in September. Tax exemption was granted for Christmas. A trustee has been identified.

Football authorities seem to think lessons cannot be learned from Sala's tragic death

Football authorities seem to think lessons cannot be learned from Sala's tragic death

Football authorities seem to think lessons cannot be learned from Sala’s tragic death

There is hope that the Emiliano Sala Memorial Trust will launch later this month, with global PR firm Mercury LLC raising awareness. It has been 14 months since the family met Cardiff City to discuss the idea.

Sala was hardly known in Argentina when he joined Cardiff. It was comforting to him at a time of personal uncertainty about his future that his move had been featured on Fox Sports, and he thanked Martin for making the report.

Only at death did he become a household name in his own country, where he will be commemorated again next week.

“People in Argentina are looking at how little the game has done with all its money for this family that has been through so much,” says Martin.

‘They are surprised about that. Shocked by that. They think it would have been different if Emiliano had been an English player. ‘

The ‘crease-gate’ controversy – Steve Smith’s bleak removal of Indian batsman Rishabh Pant’s guard at the SCG this week – seems like the ideal time to revisit the scene when coach Justin Langer discusses with his players that they are ‘good guys’. , in the first episode of The Test, the Amazon documentary about the team’s so-called rehabilitation after Sandpapergate in South Africa.

‘It’s something we need to have a conversation about. There is abuse and chatter, ”Langer says to the players, pen in hand and management manual halfway up his butt.

Except there is no conversation. Just a few players kidding at his expense. The test, like so much in Amazon’s fly-on-the-wall sports genre, is not so much documentary as it is propaganda. Bad, toe-curling propaganda.

A stump camera picked up Steve Smith and appeared to damage the batsman's guard

A stump camera picked up Steve Smith and appeared to damage the batsman's guard

A stump camera picked up Steve Smith and appeared to damage the batsman’s guard

Good to see The Donald hit where he will hurt the most, stripping New Jersey’s Trump Bedminster of the US PGA Championship in 2022.

A feel-good move in which we can all merge.

So why will the IOC and FIFA allow China, which has built 380 internment camps in Xinjiang, to buy legitimacy by hosting the 2024 Winter Olympics and this winter’s Club World Club? Real principles require real courage.

Best read this week: FT Weekend’s cover story essay on Nike’s existential crisis

Best Listen This Week: Cricket’s Final Word Podcast. Adam Collins and Geoff Lemon’s excellent daily insight into the Oz v India series. The fourth and final Test starts on Friday.

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