New Zealand Football has confirmed that international futsal goalkeeper Atta Elayyan was one of the victims in Friday’s Christchurch mosque shootings.
The 33-year-old, who had represented the Futsal Whites 19 times, was praying at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque next to Hagley Park when he was shot, the governing body said.
“It is still hard to comprehend what happened in Christchurch on Friday afternoon,” NZF chief executive Andrew Pragnell said in a statement.
“On behalf of everyone at New Zealand Football our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who has been affected by these heinous acts of violence.
“My heart goes out to the futsal community. They are a very tight-knit group and this news of Atta’s death will be devastating for all involved in the game. We feel their pain and their grief.”
Josh Margetts, New Zealand Futsal development manager and Elayyan’s teammate, said that a “huge hole” has been left in the hearts of the Kiwi football community.
“Atta was a great man and well-liked by everyone in the Futsal Whites squad and the futsal community,” Margetts said.
“There are no words to sum up how we are all feeling. There is huge hole in our hearts as we come to terms with the loss of a great person and a good mate. He will be sorely missed.
“To Atta’s family, we are deeply sorry for your loss. We can’t imagine what you are going through, but please know we love you and we are here for you during this incredibly difficult time.”
New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed on Sunday that the death toll from Friday’s terror attack had risen to 50.