Player whose death Irish amateur club falsely reported will not press charges

A footballer whose death was falsely reported by his former club, Ballybrack FC, will not press charges and has claimed the amateur side from Dublin did it in order to get a game postponed.

Ballybrack, who play in the Leinster Senior League (LSL) in Ireland, announced that Fernando Lafuente had died on Thursday in a car wreck. Their game against Arklow Town on Saturday was postponed and a minute's silence was held by other teams before their fixtures.

Lafuente, 29, played for Ballybrack FC last season and was no longer with the club after moving to Galway, where he works for a software company.

"I'm alive and well," he told Cadena Ser radio. "It seems like they wanted to get away from playing a football game and someone came up with the brilliant idea to kill me off considering I was no longer at the club and I'm living in a different city.

"They used me as an excuse not to play the game as the investigation has determined. The club said that I had died in a car crash but that they did not have a death certificate because they had sent my body in a coffin to Spain."

The amateur football team from Dublin apologised for a "gross error of judgement" and the person responsible for the false news was sacked.

"The football league put an obituary in the local newspaper," Lafuente said. "I only found out on Tuesday afternoon at 8 p.m. regarding what had happened after getting a call from my boss telling me that I was all over the news.

"He knew I was alive because he had spoken to me. I didn't even know that at the weekend all the team captains in the other games wore black armbands and a minute's silence was observed before the games in my honour."

Lafuente said he had to urgently call his family and wife back in Spain before they saw the news.

"Thankfully, the news didn't travel fast and as soon as I put the phone down I called my mother and my wife in Spain and told them of the situation and that I was well," he said.

Lafuente said he has become a celebrity.

"People in Ireland have a sense of humour like we do in Spain and the memes started to arrive," he said. "They put my face instead of that of Jesus Christ, another one said Fernando has returned from the dead.

"I've taken it in my stride. At the end of the day no one was hurt and no damage was done.

"It's all OK with the club. When I was there, they were very good to me. They would come and pick me up to take me to training. I now have received several offers to play in teams of the Galway area."

LSL will not be as forgiving with its chairman David Moran labelling the bizarre episode "a disgrace which has brought the whole league into disrepute."

Moran said the LSL will meet the Irish FA to discuss how to proceed and what sanctions may be imposed.

The LSL said that no further statements will be made regarding the Ballybrack FC issue, that their focus is on assisting the individuals involved and ask that "privacy is afforded to both the League and the club to deal with the ongoing matter."