The British police said on Sunday that they were investigating the online publication of what is believed to be a photograph of the body of Emiliano Sala, an Argentine soccer striker who died in a plane crash in the English Channel in January.
“We are aware that a picture reported to be of Mr. Sala’s body has been shared on social media channels and are disgusted that somebody did this,” a spokesman for the Dorset Police in Bournemouth, an English coastal town where Mr. Sala’s body was being held, said on Sunday.
He added that the police were investigating how and when the picture had been taken, and by whom. Reports on Sunday in the British news media said that the photograph had been taken in the mortuary and posted to Twitter. It was later taken down.
“It is clearly a very difficult time for Mr. Sala’s family, and they should not have to endure the additional pain that this shameful act will undoubtedly cause,” the police spokesman said.
News of the photograph’s publication — which some reports suggested might have resulted from a break-in — came a day after it was learned that Mr. Sala’s father, Horacio Sala, had died of a heart attack, three months after the death of his son.
Emiliano Sala, 28, was flying to Cardiff, Wales, from Nantes, France, on Jan. 21 in a single-engine, propeller-driven Piper Malibu when contact with the aircraft was lost over the English Channel. Mr. Sala had transferred to the English Premier League team Cardiff City from Nantes in the French league just days before the crash.
He sent an audio message from the plane to a group of friends on WhatsApp, saying that he was “so afraid” and that the plane “seems like it’s falling to pieces.”
His body was discovered, along with parts of the wreckage, two weeks later, but the body of David Ibbotson, the pilot, has yet to be found.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch of Britain is looking into the cause of the crash.
A preliminary report by the agency in February said that the pilot had not been licensed to carry fee-paying passengers and that the plane had not been registered for commercial flights.
There has been a dispute between Cardiff City and Nantes over the transfer fee of 15 million pounds, or about $19.3 million, paid for Mr. Sala, who never played for the Welsh team. Nantes has referred the matter to FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.
Responding to news of the photograph, a spokesman for Cardiff City said in an email on Sunday, “Cardiff City F.C. expresses its disgust and outrage at the individual/individuals who thoughtlessly took and shared the image.”