The tragic death of Argentine football player Emiliano Sala marked one year as the plane carrying the 28-year-old plunged into the English Channel on Jan. 21, 2019. A former Nantes forward, Sala was on his way to join his new club Cardiff City but the plane that he took from Nantes vanished from radar near the Channel Islands. The wreckage of a plane was found by a private search boat on Feb. 3 where his body was recovered from the single-turbine airplane.
Cardiff City called supporters on Tuesday to commemorate Sala by laying flowers and wreaths outside the club stadium.
"All of our thoughts are with the family and friends of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson [the pilot]. The pain they have been through over the last 12 months must be indescribable," Cardiff City said in a statement on their website.
"To mark the anniversary we are welcoming supporters to lay floral tributes at the Fred Keenor Statue throughout the day," the Wales-based Champi̇onshi̇p Division club added.
Cardiff City were playing in the top-tier English Premi̇er League last season but the Bluebirds were relegated to the lower division, the Champi̇onshi̇p.
Meanwhile, the 2001 French champions Nantes also plan to honor their number 9 this weekend.
In February, Nantes retired his No. 9 jersey to respect Sala as he became one of Nantes' legends.
Nantes said on their website that the French Ligue 1 club, supporters and players will pay tribute to Sala and 59-year-old Ibbotson, who tragically vanished in the English Channel last year.
The commemoration ceremony will be held in Nantes' home ground, Stade de la Beaujoire as "Les Canaris" (The Canaries) will face Bordeaux in Sunday's league match at 5 p.m. local time (1600GMT).
Nantes are also planning several commemorative acts for Sala such as leaving his portrait in the stadium's center circle during the warm-up and handing out magazines specially prepared for the Argentine forward.
The French club also said that his photos and videos will be displayed on giant screens before the match, showing his moments as a Nantes player.
"Arrived in July 2015, Emiliano became the top scorer for Nantes during three seasons... He was a talented player, a warm person and a human. We all miss him," Nantes stated.
"He was an Argentine, who doesn't give up. Emiliano Sala, Emiliano Sala, Emiliano Sala…," the club added.
Sala spent the majority of his career in France, playing for Bordeaux, US Orleans, FC Chamois Niort, SM Caen, and Nantes.
He played in 200 club matches, where he scored 73 goals during his career.
Meanwhile, Sala netted 48 goals in 133 appearances for Nantes. Cardiff City signed him from Nantes on Jan. 19 for £15 million or $19.5 million.
British police confirmed on Feb. 7 that a body recovered from the wreckage in the English Channel belonged to Sala. However, the body of Ibbotson is still missing.
Toxic gas found in Sala’s plane: Report
Sala was exposed to a high level of carbon monoxide before the accident, according to a report in August.
A report by the U.K.’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) suggested that Sala’s blood contained 58% carbon monoxide (CO).
"CO is a colorless, odorless gas produced from the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing materials," the report explained, adding that combining it with hemoglobin in the blood cuts the flow of needed oxygen to the body.
"In this type of aircraft, the cockpit is not separated from the cabin and it is considered likely that the pilot would also have been affected to some extent by exposure to CO," the report said, referring to the pilot, Ibbotson.
Carbon monoxide intoxication "can reduce or inhibit a pilot’s ability to fly an aircraft," it noted.
Sala's transfer fee still in dispute
Cardiff City and Nantes have fallen into a dispute over Sala's transfer fee.
The Welsh team's board has argued that the club was not liable for any fee because Sala was not officially their player when he died so they had refused to pay it.
In September, FIFA ordered Cardiff City to pay the first installment of a 6 million euro ($6.68 million) fee for Nantes but the Bluebirds went against the world football's governing body's ruling.
Headquartered in the Swiss city of Lausanne, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said in December that it would fix a hearing in 2020 spring but a final decision would be done after June 2020.