An Irish amateur football team has issued an apology for a “grave and unacceptable mistake” after it falsely reported that one of its players had died last week.
Ballybrack FC was due to play Arklow Town in the Leinster Senior League, but the match was postponed after Ballybrack reported one of its players, Spaniard Fernando Nuno la Fuente, had died in a car crash.
The news saw all teams in the league hold a minute’s silence before the start of their matches, with players donning black armbands.
The league and some clubs even tweeted condolences to the player and his family.
But the league has since confirmed that it learned the player was not dead, and was back in his native Spain.
League chairman David Moran called the club’s announcement a “disgrace”, saying it had brought the “whole league into disrepute”.
“We were informed on Friday morning that a young lad had passed away. So, yesterday 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,” he said.
“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 into Ballybrack.
‘We’ve never had anything like this before’
Ballybrack has offered its sincere apologies to the league and opponents Arklow Town FC, saying the person behind the announcement was experiencing “severe personal difficulties”.
“The club has contacted Fernando to confirm his whereabouts, wellbeing and are thankful for his acceptance of our apology on this matter,” the statement said.
“This grave and unacceptable mistake was completely out of character and was made by a person who has been experiencing severe personal difficulties unbeknownst to any other members of the club.
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 Leinster Senior League said it was glad to hear the player was in good health and had returned to Spain, also apologising for any distress caused as a result of notifying its clubs of the death of the player.
League chairman Moran said he would have to figure out exactly what punishments are meted out.
“We’ll meet on Thursday,” he told the Irish Times.
“One of the first things we’ll have to do is figure out what rules they broke. We’ve never had anything like this before.”