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French football to pay tribute to late Emiliano Sala, Nantes to retire his No. 9 shirt

File photo of Emiliano Sala. Photograph:( Reuters )

Agencia EFE Paris, France Feb 09, 2019, 01.02 PM (IST)

The French football association Friday revealed plans to pay tribute to Argentine forward Emiliano Sala, whose body has been found in the wreckage of a light aircraft that crashed in the English Channel late last month, while Nantes announced it would retire the No. 9 shirt he wore for three seasons at the club.

Ligue de Football Professionnel, the governing body for French football, said Sala would be honoured at the beginning of each match of the first and second tier leagues.

"For Week 24 in Ligue 1 Conforama and Domino's Ligue 2, one minute's applause will be observed at every ground before matches kick off," the governing body said in a statement.

The commemoration will include Nantes' La Beaujoire stadium, venue of a Ligue 1 game pitting the home side against Nimes, scheduled for Sunday.

Sala left from Nantes aboard a Piper PA-46 Malibu heading to join the Premier League side Cardiff City, who paid a club record of 15 million sterling pounds ($19.45m) to contract the forward, a player that had impressed European leagues and clubs during the first half of this season.

The light aircraft crashed in the English Channel on January 21 with Sala and pilot David Ibbotson on board. 

The police in the United Kingdom announced late Thursday that a body found in the wreckage of the crashed plane was Sala's.

Following the announcement, Nantes said in a statement that Sala, who scored 48 goals over 144 first tier French soccer matches, will have a special place in the history of the club.

President of FC Nantes, Waldemar Kita said: "It is a tragedy. I am devastated. Emiliano left his mark, which is why, like many fans, I want to honour him again by removing the number 9."

The chairperson of the Ligue de Football Professionnel Nathalie Boy de la Tour said: "Personally, like so many other people, I have a heavy heart. Emiliano Sala embodied joie de vivre, politeness, generosity and simplicity."

"In the name of French professional football, I would like to thank each and every one of you for the support you have shown to the family of Emiliano Sala, whose memory will remain forever etched in our hearts," he added.

Story highlights

Ligue de Football Professionnel, the governing body for French soccer, said Sala would be honored at the beginning of each match of the first and second tier leagues.