Stade de Reims on Sunday were in mourning for long-serving club doctor Bernard Gonzalez, who committed suicide after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“Devastated, Reims cries for Bernard Gonzalez,” a statement released by the Ligue 1 club said. “Not just the club, but also hundreds of men and women in Reims.”
Reims Mayor Arnaud Robinet said that he had been made aware of the suicide of the 60-year-old, who had worked at the club for more than 20 years, by the local prefecture.
“I was told doctor Gonzalez had left a note in which he mentioned that he had tested positive for COVID-19,” Robinet said.
A medical source also confirmed the existence of the letter, but added that the doctor had appeared “to be in good shape two days ago.”
“I am shocked by his death because he was someone I had known for many years,” Robinet said. “No only was he the club doctor, but he was also the GP [general practitioner] of many people in Reims. He was known for his human and professional qualities. He will be missed by the football family and all those in Reims who met him.”
Stade de Reims president Jean-Pierre Caillot said that he was “stunned” by the news.
“This pandemic has struck Reims in the heart. A great personality and great professional of the sport has left us,” Caillot said.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to create a puzzle for French soccer and, for the moment, those in charge have no idea what the answer might be.
The idea of simply declaring the season over is gaining ground in some quarters, but others remain strongly opposed to the suggestion.
The top flight and second division have already been suspended for three weeks, with 10 rounds of matches to play, and many of the leading voices are no longer saying that it should finish “whatever the cost.”
“There are more uncertainties today,” Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas — an early advocate of ending the league and basing European qualification on last season’s final placings which would put his seventh-placed team in the UEFA Champions League — told L’Equipe on Sunday.
The chances of “finishing all the matches [are] lower,” he said.
Stade Brestois 29 president Denis Le Sant told the same paper that “the season could not start again.”
Amiens SC president Bernard Joannin, whose side are 19th in the table, agreed.
“Denis Le Saint has a very humane position that places the health of all above everything else. It’s a view that’s shared by a lot of people in the world of football,” Joannin said. “You have to understand that the only commander is COVID-19. Unfortunately, it sets the agenda.”
Others were outraged.
“We hope that the league will finish if it’s possible. It really bothers me to see in some people a kind of shame that football wants to come back to life at some point,” Le Havre AC general manager Pierre Wantiez said. “I’m not going to hide behind a veil of secrecy and say: ‘It’s over, we can’t do anything.’ Let’s wait before saying the season is dead.”
The situation is confusing leaders across the game.
The lockdown in France has been extended until at least Wednesday next week. Most clubs have put staff, including players, on part-time contracts and some of the league’s foreign stars, including Brazil’s Neymar, have gone home.
Broadcasters Canal+ and beIN Sports have suspended the payment of TV rights, the clubs’ main source of revenue. In that context, the French league is increasing the frequency of its conference calls, but delaying its decisions.
“Today, who can say what’s going to happen? We’re preparing for everything. For the time being, I think it’s urgent to wait,” said Dijon FCO president Olivier Delcourt, whose side are three points above the relegation playoff spot.
Joannin said he would like the league to follow the French government’s lead.
“There’s no point in talking and saying nothing,” Joannin said. “Let’s take the time... We need to give ourselves two weeks to see how things are going.”
The issue of TV rights is to be addressed this week by a quartet of club presidents, led by Paris Saint-Germain’s Nasser al-Khelaifi, who is also head of beIN Media, and several sources confirmed negotiations with Canal+ are also planned.
The timetable depends on the decision of the French government on when to end the lockdown and, to a lesser degree, FIFA and UEFA.
FIFA has to change the way the summer transfer market works, because players whose contracts end this season would become free agents at the end of June. UEFA has shown itself open to postponing its Champions League until the end of July or August to allow the domestic leagues to finish, but has also threatened to bar clubs from leagues that do not finish.
Some officials argue a “deadline” for the resumption of the league must be set quickly.
“A resumption of the season until doomsday should not push the problem onto the next championship,” Wantiez said.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on