Dorset Police has confirmed the body recovered from a plane wreckage in the English Channel is that of Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala.
The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed on Wednesday that a victim had been passed to the Dorset Coroner, having been recovered with the help of specialist contractors.
The Piper Malibu aircraft disappeared with Sala and pilot David Ibbotson on board on January 21, with the 28-year-old en route to Cardiff having completed a club-record transfer from Ligue 1 side Nantes.
A police statement issued late on Thursday read: “The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday 7 February 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala.
“The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.
“HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police.”
#Update The body brought to Portland Port today has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala.
The families of Mr Sala and pilot David Ibbotson have been updated. Our thoughts remain with them all
— Dorset Police (@dorsetpolice) February 7, 2019
An initial search and rescue effort was called off by Guernsey Police after three days on January 24.
Guernsey harbourmaster Captain David Barker called their chances of survival “extremely remote”, but a number of high-profile football figures and members of the public answered the family’s calls to fund a private search operation.
The plane was located on the seabed off Guernsey on Sunday using a remotely operated vehicle, during which time a body was found amid what remained of the light aircraft.
A recovery operation was then launched following consultation with the families of Sala and Ibbotson, and the police.
The football world came together in grief and to pay its respects as the severity of the Sala story began to unfold, with floral tributes laid outside Cardiff City Stadium and vigils held in Nantes, where 42 goals in three-and-a-half seasons made him a fan favourite.
Following reports of a dispute between the two clubs this week, Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman confirmed the Premier League outfit were yet to pay the first instalment of Sala’s transfer fee.
“We must show respect to the family. There is a process for recovering the plane,” he said, prior to Sala’s body being identified.
“[We will pay] when we think it’s the right time to do it. I don’t think Cardiff said we were not going to pay.”
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