(CNN) — An amateur Irish football team has been left embarrassed by the fiasco, but a Spanish soccer player can’t help but see the funny side of his Lazarus-like return from the grave.
Ballybrack FC’s game against Arklow Town was postponed on Saturday after a club official announced the death of Spanish player Fernando Nuno La-Fuente in a traffic accident. Moments of silence were also held before other matches in the Leinster Senior League.
The official’s scam was a ruse to get Saturday’s game postponed, but La-Fuente was later confirmed to be alive.
“It has come to the attention of both the club, senior players and the management team that a gross error of judgment has occurred emanating from correspondence sent from a member of the senior set-up management team to the Leinster Senior League,” a statement from Dublin-based Ballybrack said on Tuesday.
“As of this evening an emergency meeting was held and the person in question has been relieved of all footballing duties, within Ballybrack FC, its senior team and roles within the club itself. The club has contacted Fernando to confirm his whereabouts, well-being and are thankful for his acceptance of our apology on this matter.
“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. The club will continue to provide a duty of care to all parties and offer the support that may be needed at this time.”
Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1 on Wednesday, La-Fuente said he “knew something was going on” and was told by the club to ignore any posts about him from the Leinster Senior League.
“I was yesterday, home, after my work finished, I was playing some video games and suddenly I got a call from work and they said: ‘You’re a celebrity.’ That’s how I found out that I was dead.
“It’s serious on their part, but I find it a little bit funny, because I am not dead and no-one has actually been harmed.
“I had to call my mom straight away because she didn’t know anything.”
La-Fuente also said that he had relocated from Dublin to Galway for work in September. Ballybrack lies nine miles to the south of Dublin.
Leinster Senior League officials have confirmed that they will meet on Thursday to further investigate the incident, which they believe took place to force the postponement of last weekend’s fixture.
“Things started to unravel here when we followed up on Monday to see if we could get in touch with the lad’s family and see if there was anything we could do,” league chairman David Moran told The Irish Times. “They said the body was already back in Spain which didn’t really add up.
“It’s a shocking thing to do to get a game of football called off. We had a minute’s silence at all the other games and the players wore black armbands.
“You have to have something wrong with you to do something like that.”
Moran confirmed that the Ballybrack club secretary had resigned on Tuesday.
The club also said that the individual responsible for the false report had been a long-serving member of the Dublin football community who had “contributed greatly to the senior team.
“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 statement continued.
“The past few years has seen good progress made in regards to renewal of senior football in the Ballybrack area. We are all taken aback by this event and hope to try work with all relevant organizations and agencies to learn from this mistake.”