Kylian Mbappe donates $35K to Sala pilot search fund

Kylian Mbappe donates $35K to Sala pilot search fund
French striker Kylian Mbappe has donated $35,000 to a fund to help the search for David Ibbotson, the pilot whose body has still not been found after the plane he was flying crashed with footballer Emiliano Sala on board.

The body of Argentinian striker Sala was recovered on Wednesday from the plane wreckage at the bottom of the English Channel, after the Piper Malibu aircraft piloted by Ibbotson crashed on the way from France to the UK on January 21.

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The official search effort was initially called off after three days, before a private effort was launched by Sala’s family after raising funds.

Ibbotson’s body has not yet been recovered, and his family have set up a similar fund to help continue efforts with the search.

The Go Fund Me page had raised more than £100,000 (US$130,000) of its £300,000 ($390,000) target as of Sunday afternoon. 

It was given a massive boost thanks to a donation of £27,000 ($35,000) from Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe.

The 20-year-old’s donation – made under the name  Elie Lottin – was the largest on the site, while prominent UK football pundit and former England striker Gary Lineker pledged £1,000 to resume the search efforts.       

In launching the page, Ibbotson’s family wrote: "Please help bring David Ibbotson home and help give him the send off he deserves.

"As a family we are relying on the kindness of the good hearted people to help us raise the much needed funds to help us find our beloved Dad, Husband and Son.

"As a family we are trying to come to terms with the tragedy and the loss of two incredible men.

"To be told the search has now been called off for the foreseeable future has only made this tragic time more difficult.

"We can not bear the thought of him being alone, we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest."

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After Sala’s body was recovered, continued search efforts were called off due to adverse weather conditions, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said.

Sala and Ibbotson, 59, disappeared while on their way from Nantes, where the Argentine striker had been bidding farewell to former teammates before joining new club Cardiff City, whom he had signed for in a record £15 million deal.

His disappearance and later confirmation of his death led to an outpouring of grief among football fans across the world, with tributes being paid in matches across the UK and France.

However, Cardiff’s game against Southampton on Saturday – which the Bluebirds won 2-1 – was marred by Saints fans appearing to taunt rival supporters over the incident.

READ MORE: Two Southampton fans face bans after making sick 'Sala plane gestures' at Cardiff supporters