An amateur Irish football club has apologised for a “gross error of judgment” after falsely reporting that one of its players had died.
Ballybrack FC, based in Dublin, told the Leinster Senior League that Fernando Nuno La Fuente, a Spanish native, had been killed in a traffic accident last Thursday.
The side’s game against Arklow Town on Saturday was postponed, while other teams in the league held a minute’s silence in honour of the player.
The league is also said to have posted a notice of his death in Irish newspaper The Herald before it was discovered that La Fuente was alive and well.
Ballybrack FC said it had contacted the player to confirm his wellbeing, and described the incident as a “grave and unacceptable mistake”.
“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.”
It added: “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.”
The club added that “the person in question has been relieved of all footballing duties” following an emergency meeting.
“We wanted to show our sympathies and go to the Mass and maybe meet the family and see what we could do to help in this horrible situation,” he said.
“And we were told he was flown back to Spain on the Saturday. Straight away, that rang alarm bells for us.
“We checked the hospitals, we checked everywhere. Nobody could find anything about this young fella. Obviously, some of his teammates released stuff on social media saying he went back to Spain four weeks ago.”
The league issued a statement saying that it had acted in “good faith” after being informed of the death, but added: “The 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.”