Leinster Senior League side Ballybrack FC face serious punishment after falsely reporting the death of one of their players to get a game called off.
Ballybrack claimed that Fernando Nuno La Fuente died in a traffic accident last Thursday, leading to tributes pouring in from fellow Leinster Senior League sides.
Some clubs even observed a minute’s silence for La Fuente during this weekend’s round of fixtures, but it has now been confirmed that the player is “in good health” in his native Spain.
That's Liffey Wanderers holding a minute's silence for a player Ballybrack FC said had died in a car crash but was actually alive and well in Spain. pic.twitter.com/uF0ofGILg1
— PJ Browne (@P_J_Browne) November 27, 2018
Ballybrack released a club statement apologising for “a gross error of judgement”. It read:
“It has come to the attention of both the club, senior players and the management team that a gross error of judgement has occurred emanating from correspondence sent from a member of the senior set-up management team to the Leinster Senior League.
“As of this evening an emergency meeting was held and the person in question has been relieved of all footballing duties within Ballybrack FC, its senior team and roles within the club itself. The club has contacted Fernando to confirm his whereabouts, wellbeing and are thankful for his acceptance of our apology on this matter.
“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.
“At this stage we can only offer our sincere apologies to the Leinster Senior League, our opponents Arklow Town FC and the host of clubs and football people who made contact with us or offered messages of support in recent days.”
Leinster Senior League chairman David Moran confirmed that Ballybrack fabricated the story to get an away game against Arklow called off.
“We get calls from clubs saying that somebody connected to the club has died and they need a game called off all the time and there is never any hassle about it,” he told The Irish Times.
“But things started to unravel here when we followed up on Monday to see if we could get in touch with the lad’s family and see if there was anything we could do. They said the body was already back in Spain which didn’t really add up.
“We rang and we couldn’t get any answers out of them. We checked the hospitals, we checked everywhere. Nobody could find anything about this young fella. Obviously, some of his team-mates released stuff on social media saying he went back to Spain four weeks ago.
“We don’t honestly know why they did it. It seems a bit extreme to do something like that to get a game off. All they had to say was they were giving a walkover and they’ll get their fine and that’s the end of it.
“It’s a shocking thing to do to get a game of football called off.
“We had a minute’s silence at all the other games and the players wore black armbands. You have to have something wrong with you to do something like that.
“We’ll meet on Thursday,” he added when asked what action would be taken. “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.”
Moran also confirmed that Ballybrack’s secretary had resigned by text, but that there had been almost no direct contact with the club otherwise.