An English football legend is among those slamming Cristiano Ronaldo for a tweet he sent after a fellow footballer’s plane disappeared.
Cardiff City’s record new signing, Emiliano Sala, is missing presumed dead after a light aircraft he was travelling in disappeared over the English Channel.
The Argentine striker, signed on Saturday from French club Nantes for a reported fee of 17 million euros ($27.3 million), was flying to Cardiff aboard the plane that disappeared from radars around 20 kilometres north of the island of Guernsey on Monday night.
The search continued throughout Tuesday before being suspended for the night, with police on the British island warning that survival chances were “slim” if the aircraft landed on water.
Amid the tragedy, Ronaldo has caused outrage with this tweet.
The Portuguese star posted a pic of himself flying from Spain to Italy after fronting a Spanish court over tax fraud charges.
Ronaldo posted an aeroplane emoji and a big thumbs up, all smiles after being ordered to pay 3.57 million euros ($5.7 million) for committing tax fraud when at Real Madrid, part of a broader 18.8-million-euro ($30 million) payout.
However many felt the post was insensitive, considering Sala’s plight.
England legend Gary Lineker was among those to criticise Ronaldo, writing “Not the day for this tweet, it really isn’t.”
Not the day for this tweet. It really isn’t. https://t.co/61y6cgEzm0
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) January 22, 2019
Not great timing!! 😩
— Josh Fawdry (@joshfawdry) January 22, 2019
0/10 for awareness!
10/10 for an ill-timed aircraft selfie tweet! 🙄
— Armed Forces Spurs (Official Supporters Club) (@UK_Forces_Spurs) January 22, 2019
Incredible levels of insensitivity and selfishness here.
— Ben Spicer (@spicer81) January 22, 2019
Yeah good timing with the old aeroplane emoji 🤦♂️
— Russ (@rcannon82) January 22, 2019
Wrong timing bro ….
— ℌ𝔢𝔡𝔦 (@RealHeDi) January 22, 2019
— Bex (@MsWannaBean) January 22, 2019
Look at me. I'm rich. I escape prison because I'm rich. I have a private jet. I'm so self-absorbed I have no idea about any other footballers flying today.
— Jason Fox (@JasonFox_14) January 22, 2019
However many other users defended Ronaldo, suggesting he hadn’t heard about the tragic news.
‘Fearing the worst’
French civil aviation authorities have confirmed that 28-year-old Sala “was on board the plane”.
It is thought there was one other passenger on the aircraft.
Police on Guernsey, which sits just off the north coast of France, said the pilot had requested to lower his altitude shortly before air traffic control in neighbouring Jersey lost contact with the plane.
One of the rescuers searching for the missing plane earlier admitted they were “fearing the worst”.
“Sadly we are fearing the worst…the sea temperature is so cold at the moment,” John Fitzgerald, Chief Officer of Channel Islands Air Search, told AFP.
The player’s mother, Mercedes, claimed in an interview with Argentine television channel C5N that the plane belonged to the Cardiff chairman, Mehmet Dalman.
“The last time I spoke to Emi was before take-off and he was very happy in the best time of his career,” she added.
Sala, who had been at Nantes since 2015 and had scored 13 goals in all competitions this season, had signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with relegation-threatened Cardiff subject to receiving international clearance.
“We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing. We expected Emiliano to arrive last night into Cardiff and today was due to be his first day with the team,” the Premier League club’s executive director Ken Choo said in a statement.
“We continue to pray for positive news.”