Berenice Schkair and her former beau Emiliano Sala.
Berenice Schkair and her former beau Emiliano Sala.

Missing football star's ex-girlfriend makes stunning claim

Emiliano Sala's model ex-girlfriend is claiming that the "football mafia" is behind the doomed plane crash in the Channel.

Berenice Schkair, 27, said her "heart is broken" and she is "destroyed" after hearing the plane her former partner was on vanished on its way to Cardiff.

She said she feels "pain, fear and anger" and is desperately waiting for good news, adding: "We are waiting for you".

In an emotional post on social media, she wrote: "I want to wake up and all of this to be a lie. Please investigate because I cannot believe this accident.

"Don't suspend the search for bad weather when you only just found objects floating. I need to read that you have shown up."

Posting her message last night, she added: "I cannot believe they're suspending the search until tomorrow, they're losing time and aren't investigating.

"I feel impotent, I'm in a nightmare. I cannot stop thinking about you, Emi."

"The thing I regret most is not having told you that you made me feel like I haven't felt in a while and I love you," she continued.

"Why does this misfortune happen to such a fascinating man full of projects, hardworking, a good person dedicated to his job.

"Emi, my heart is broken. I still cannot understand it. I'm destroyed, I feel pain, fear, anger and impotence for not being able to do anything. I know you're strong. We are waiting for you."

In a separate post, Schkair wrote: "Investigate the football mafia because I don't believe this was an accident."

When asked by Argentine media outlet Infobae for a comment, she said: "The only thing I want is for him to show up. Out of respect for the family I prefer to wait, I'm going to say what I need to say in a few days."

The model was born in the Tres de Febrero area of the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.

The search for Cardiff's recording-signing striker is ongoing.

He was one of three people on board a Piper Malibu plane travelling from Nantes to the Welsh capital Cardiff when it went missing on Monday evening.

Missing football star Emiliano Sala with his ex-girlfriend.
Missing football star Emiliano Sala with his ex-girlfriend.

Sala was on board a plane being flown by a pilot who had told pals he was feeling "a bit rusty" just days before the doomed aircraft vanished with the football ace on board.

Married dad-of-three Dave Ibbotson, 60, was at the controls when the single turbine-engined Piper PA-46 Malibu disappeared off the Channel Islands.

Ibbotson had been carrying Sala, Cardiff City's new record signing, from Nantes, France, to Wales when the aircraft got into difficulties.

Facebook posts shared before the flight departed on Monday night show Mr Ibbotson talking about being "a bit rusty with the ILS (Instrument Landing System)".

He tagged himself at Nantes Airport on Saturday before replying to comments about the flight on Sunday.

The pilot wrote: "Was not to (sic) bad when I got there but I'm a bit rusty with the ils, in France now."

A friend replied: "Rusty with the ILS?! I can't believe that!"

Mr Ibbotson added: "You wanna bet, a little on the high side hehe, better than on the low side."

Sala sent audio messages about the "bumpy ride" he was having as the plane hit bad weather near Guernsey on Monday.

It lost contact near the Casquets lighthouse and vanished at 2300-feet at 8.30pm.

As searchers offered little hope on Wednesday of finding Sala alive, some in football posed the first sensitive questions over insurance and the fee Cardiff had just agreed to pay for the Argentine striker.

Sala signed with the Premier League club on Saturday from French Ligue 1 club Nantes for a reported $27 million, and at the same time agreed a three-and-a-half year contract with his new club.

Fans in both Nantes and Cardiff held vigils for the player on Tuesday night but one question that faces both clubs, is who will pay the transfer fee, which represents a substantial amount of money for both clubs.

"The transfer contract is valid as soon as it is registered with FIFA," Alexandra Cohen Jonathan, a lawyer and partner at the Paris firm August Debouzy, told AFP.

"If this is the case, in principle Cardiff must pay the ($27 million) to Nantes even though the player has disappeared."

According to a source close to FC Nantes, the deal had been finalised. "The contract was signed Saturday at 5pm and approved Monday," said the source.

Broadly, big clubs take out two types of insurance to cover players. There is liability cover, against bodily injuries suffered by players which is attributable to the employer.

Then there is key man insurance, originally designed to protect businesses from the sudden loss of important members of the company, which football clubs use to cover themselves in case they lose valuable squad members. It is based on transfer values.

"Nantes had certainly signed a contract of this type, but does this contract still apply when a transfer has already been signed?" asked Cohen Jonathan. "Have Cardiff already taken out this insurance? Had it already come into effect?"

As for the liability insurance, that would only come into play "if one of the two clubs was the organiser of air transport," said Cohen Jonathan, adding that this does not seem to be the case.

Cardiff president Mehmet Dalman said on Wednesday that the club had offered to arrange Sala's trip but the attacker had opted to make "his own arrangements".

In plane accidents, the carrier is responsible for compensation but the payout is normally capped at $160,000, said Cohen Jonathan.

But that cap disappears "if you prove the air carrier is at fault," the lawyer added.

"In that case, the right to compensation is complete and full, that is to say that if the damage is ($27 million), we have the right to the entire sum in compensation."

The interested parties would need to prove the owner of the plane was to blame and, indeed, to establish who that is.

Shortly before take off, Sala sent relatives a desperate message saying the plane looked like it was "going to fall apart".

That message "will necessarily lead to an examination of the plane's maintenance log" to try to establish a possible fault and the responsibility of the air carrier or, in case of the failure of a component, an equipment manufacturer in case of failure of a component, said the lawyer.

"In any case, someone will have to pay ($27 million)," said Cohen Jonathan.

- with AFP