A probe has been launched after a local football club faked a player’s death to get out of playing a match.
Ballybrack FC were due to play Arklow Town on Saturday afternoon but the bizarre story unfolded when the south Dublin club informed the Leinster Senior League (LSL) that one of their players had died in a traffic accident on Thursday evening.
The club posted a message on Facebook saying: “It’s with great sadness that Ballybrack FC must report the tragic loss of one [of] our senior players Fernando NunolaFuente who passed away Friday morning after a traffic accident on Thursday night.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and team mates at this time. Rest in peace Fernando,” said the post.
A minute’s silence was held, and black armbands were worn in the player’s honour at all LSL games played at the weekend.
However, when the league enquired about sending a rep to the funeral, they were told he had already been flown back to Spain on Saturday which caused suspicion to have happened so quickly.
After some probing the league subsequently learned that the player was not dead but in fact alive and well back in Spain.
Leinster Senior League chairman David Moran described the incident as a “disgrace.”
In a statement, he said: “We are glad to hear the player is in good health and has returned to his native Spain.
“The Leinster Senior League would like to offer their sincerest apologies for any distress caused as a result of notifying clubs as to the demise of a valued player,” said Mr Moran.
He added they will cooperate with the investigation and the league will also deal with the issue through their own internal disciplinary procedures.
Ballybrack FC is blaming a rogue member of management for faking the players death to get the match called off.
In a statement, the club describe the false reporting of the players death as a “gross error of judgement” and a “grave and unacceptable mistake” from a member of their senior management team.
In a statement, the Ballybrack Senior Football Team said that faking the players death was a “gross error of judgement.”
They added: “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 added that the person in question has been relieved of all footballing duties.
The club also offered their sincere apologies to the Leinster Senior League, their opponents Arklow Town FC and others who were affected by the fiasco.
Fernando has not played for Ballybrack since moving to Galway for a job in September. He said he is amused by the story.
Speaking to Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio One on Wednesday morning, Fernando said he knew something was happening when he was removed from his team’s WhatsApp group last Saturday.
He knew there was going to be a story about him, but he thought it would perhaps be about a broken leg.
“I was at home yesterday after work playing some video games when suddenly I got a call from work and I was like ‘oh, what’s happened? And they told me ‘You’re a celebrity’ … that’s how I found out I was dead,” he said.
“It’s serious on their part but I’m finding it a little bit funny because, basically, I’m not dead,” he said.