Nantes pays tribute to Emiliano Sala
Nantes football club paid an emotional tribute to Emiliano Sala at the Stade de la Beaujoire on Wednesday night before their first match since his plane disappeared over the English Channel on 21 January.
After a large photo of the striker was unveiled in the centre-circle before kick-off, the Nantes XI played in shirts featuring Sala's name instead of their own .
The 28-year-old went missing along with pilot David Ibbotson while travelling between Nantes and Sala's new club Cardiff City.
British investigators said on Wednesday it was likely that two seat cushions that have washed up on the shore in northern France were from the missing aircraft.
The former Nantes forward Yacine Bammou, who became a close friend of Sala's before leaving for Caen, was in tears in the stands. The Nantes coach, Vahid Halilhodzic, also struggled to contain his emotions.
"It's hard to talk about this, it's a terrible moment, we're all shocked," Halilhodzic said before the match against Saint-Etienne. "He is such a nice, kind, respectful, endearing boy and a true warrior who loved the club."
Remy Cabella did not celebrate his 58th-minute opener for the visitors, while Abdul Majeed Waris revealed a T-shirt adorned with a photo of Sala's face after equalising with 20 minutes to play.
The stalemate allowed Nantes to leapfrog Angers into 14th place with 24 points after 22 games. Saint-Etienne remain fourth.
Sala scored 42 league goals in 120 appearances for Nantes before signing for Cardiff in a 17 million-euro move.
He had visited his former teammates in Nantes on 21 January to say goodbye before flying towards Cardiff on the Piper PA-46 Malibu plane.
The official search was suspended on 24 January. However Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch said on Wednesday that it would start an underwater search this weekend with a privately-funded rescue vessel.