A Spanish soccer player whose former club in Ireland faked his death in an apparent bid to avoid a match has said he learned of his demise from work colleagues.
Fernando LaFuente said he had no role in the ruse attempted by the club in Dublin, Ballybrack FC.
The club has apologised for a “gross error of judgment” after falsely reporting that Mr LaFuente had died in a traffic accident on the way home from training last week.
Ballybrack’s game against Arklow Town on Saturday was postponed, while other teams in the Leinster Senior League held a minute’s silence in honour of the amateur player.
The league also posted a notice of his death in a newspaper before it was discovered that Mr LaFuente was actually alive and well.
Mr LaFuente moved to Galway a number of months ago. He said the club had told him they might claim that he had an accident as a way of avoiding playing the game against Arklow.
He said he only learned that his death had been faked on Tuesday night. “I was aware there was going to be some story on me but I thought it was going to be me breaking a leg,” he told Ireland’s RTE news.
“I was home yesterday after my work finished. I was playing some video games. Suddenly I got a call from work and they said what’s happened. They told me, ‘you’re a celebrity’.
“They started sending me all these news articles and mass media. And that’s how I found out I was dead.” Mr LaFuente said the club has since apologised to him.
“As soon as I heard the news, I wrote to them,” he said. “They got straight back to me and told me what was going on and they apologised.
“It’s serious on their part but I’m finding it a little bit funny. Because basically, I’m not dead. And no one has actually been harmed here.” Mr LaFuente said he would have had no issue with the club falsely claiming he had broken a limb.
But he said the reports on his death had been a “bit sad”.
“A man in his 20s, with his whole life in front of him, dying in a car accident. I don’t know how I feel about that. It’s funny for me because I’ve been watching my own death,” he said.
The software engineer suggested his ex-club might have been keen to get Saturday’s game called off due to a lack of players.
In a statement, Ballybrack FC said: “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.
Leinster Senior League chairman David Moran told RTE that the story “started to unravel” after they had inquired about offering support to the family. The league issued a statement saying that it had acted in “good faith” after being informed of the death.