A couple of weeks ago, former Montreal Canadiens tough guy Georges Laraque was running five or six days a week as he trained for a marathon.
Now, the former NHL enforcer’s biggest challenge is trying to breathe clearly as he fights COVID-19 from a hospital on Montreal’s South Shore.
“Now I can’t even get up without losing my breath. It’s insane,” he said.
In a series of videos from his hospital bed, the 43-year-old, said he began feeling symptoms last Sunday, at a time he was helping to deliver groceries to vulnerable people in his community.
Over the next days, his condition deteriorated.
“I have pneumonia in both my lungs, they’re affected by the COVID because I have asthma, I have to have oxygen blowing through my nose,” said Laraque, who wore a hospital gown and could be seen coughing at times during the videos.
Bon je ne suis pas invincible, je viens tout juste d’être diagnostiqué avec le Covid, pas la meilleure nouvelle étant donné que je suis asthmatique, ca va aller! I guess I’m not invincible, just got diagnosed with Covid, since I’m asthmatic, not the best news, will fight it off! <a href=”https://t.co/KIgo8Ra0sT”>pic.twitter.com/KIgo8Ra0sT</a>
Questions Quebec government plan to reopen schools
“The nights are the worst,” he said a moment later. “At night, I have fevers a couple times a night. I have to get up and take pills.”
Laraque thanked the staff at Charles-Le Moyne hospital who have been taking care of him, and told people not to feel sorry for him because “I’m not the only one fighting this.”
The former hockey player questioned the Quebec government’s plan to gradually reopen elementary schools and daycares beginning on May 11, given the limited amount of testing taking place.
“If you can’t test all the kids in school, it’s not going to be a safe environment for the parents and the teachers that are already way underpaid, so for two months of school is it worth it?” he said.
Laraque played parts of 12 seasons in the NHL from 1997 to 2010, including eight with Edmonton. He capped his career with two seasons in Montreal.
FIFA calls on organizers not to sanction in-game gestures supporting George Floyd – CBC.ca
FIFA urged soccer competition organizers on Monday to apply “common sense” and consider not sanctioning players for solidarity with George Floyd during matches.
The recognition of the “depth of sentiment” over Floyd’s death came in a rare statement by FIFA telling the global game to show flexibility and not enforce laws of soccer it helps to set.
Players used weekend games in Germany to reveal messages demanding justice for Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after he pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck in Minneapolis.
Germany’s soccer federation announced earlier Monday that it was assessing whether to sanction the players for breaking laws of the game that prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on equipment.
WATCH | German league players show support for George Floyd:
“FIFA fully understands the depth of sentiment and concerns expressed by many footballers in light of the tragic circumstances of the George Floyd case,” the governing body said in a statement.
FIFA controls half of the eight votes on the International Football Association Board, with the other four held by England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. A law change in 2014 — proposed by England — led to players being banned from revealing personal statements on undergarments.
England winger Jadon Sancho was booked while playing for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday for removing his jersey — a yellow-card offence — only so he could reveal a T-shirt with a “Justice for George Floyd” message.
WATCH | Canadian athletes speak against racism:
Borussia Dortmund teammate Achraf Hakimi displayed the same message on a T-shirt after scoring in the same game on Sunday but was not booked because he did not lift his jersey over his head.
Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died on Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck. Three other officers were also at the scene. Chauvin has been charged with murder and all four were fired.
On Monday, after the Deutscher Fussball-Bund said it was assessing the players’ actions, Cologne forward Anthony Modeste became the latest to make a gesture after scoring against Leipzig. He stood briefly with his right palm facing out and his left palm facing in to display the darker skin on the back of his hand.
Cologne said it was “a clear signal” against racism from Modeste.
WATCH | ESPN’s Howard Bryant reflects on Kaepernick’s preaceful protest:
DFB president Fritz Keller on Monday showed his respect and understanding for McKennie, Thuram, Sancho and Hakimi’s gestures.
“If people are discriminated against on the basis of their skin colour, it is unbearable. If they die because of their skin colour, then I am deeply distraught,” Keller said in a DFB statement. “The victims of racism need all of us to show solidarity.”
The expressions of protest are being investigated by the German soccer federation’s control body.
“As is the case internationally,” federation vice-president Rainer Koch said, “the game itself should remain free of political statements or messages of any kind.”
FIFA’s awareness of the depth of feeling over the racial inequalities highlighted by Floyd’s death comes amid ongoing criticism soccer is not doing enough to eradicate or punish racism.
“FIFA had repeatedly expressed itself to be resolutely against racism and discrimination of any kind and recently strengthened its own disciplinary rules with a view to helping to eradicate such behaviours,” the Zurich-based governing body said. “FIFA itself has promoted many anti-racism campaigns which frequently carry the anti-racism message at matches organised under its own auspices.”
UFC star Jon Jones confronts vandals during George Floyd protest in Albuquerque – GIVEMESPORT
UFC star Jon Jones took to the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico on Sunday night to confront vandals at a Black Lives Matter protest.
Jones has made news in the UFC world recently by vacating the light heavyweight belt but turned his attentions to more pressing matters at the weekend.
The 32-year-old shared footage on his Instagram account that shows him approaching vandals who were spray painting the city.
The protests were sparked by the death of American George Floyd while in police custody last week.
The clip of a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes shocked the world and has led to people challenging the injustice towards black people.
But Jones was eager for the protests to be peaceful and he was seen asking the vandals to hand over their spray cans.
He added a caption that read: “Is this s*** even about George Floyd anymore?!? Why the f*** are you punk ass teenagers destroying our cities!??
“As a young black man trust me I’m frustrated as well but this is not the way, we are starting to make a bad situation worse.
“If you really got love for your city (505), protect your s***. All you old heads need to speak up, call your young family members and tell them to come home tonight.”
Several sports stars have paid tribute to Floyd, with Bundesliga football players making gestures in support of the American at the weekend.
On Saturday, Schalke’s American midfielder Weston McKennie wore a ‘Justice for George armband’.
And on Sunday, both Marcus Thuram and Jadon Sancho honoured Floyd after scoring for Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
MLS players boycott training in apparent labour impasse – TSN
Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecap players boycotted training Monday in an apparent labour impasse between the MLS and the MLS Players Association.
It appears players in “multiple markets” also stayed home amidst reports they faced a threatened lockout by the league.
The training sessions are voluntary but players had been taking advantage of them, with Toronto, Atlanta, Inter Miami and Sporting Kansas City among those slated to progress from individual to small group training sessions Monday.
“Players made a CHOICE to focus their time and energy on an important decision which includes the threat of a lockout instead of volunteering to attend on-field training for a tournament we already agreed to attend,” tweeted Minnesota United midfielder Ethan Finlay, a member of the MLSPA’s executive board. “Refuse is not the word I would use.”
With the season on hold since March 12 due to the pandemic, the two sides have been bargaining about concessions and pay.
On Sunday night, the Players Association announced its membership had approved a package for the 2020 season included player salary reductions and additional concessions. It did not provide specifics although the proposal included participating in a summer tournament in Orlando.
“While a difficult vote in incredibly challenging times, it was taken collectively to ensure that players can return to competition as soon as they are safely able to do so,” the PA said in a statement. “The package has been formally submitted to the league for a decision by the owners.”
The league declined comment Sunday night but reports soon emerged that it wanted more concessions.
Complicating matters is the fact that while the league and PA agreed on a new collectively bargaining agreement in February, it has yet to be ratified.
The players’ proposal included adding a year to the CBA.
The labour negotiations come against a backdrop of unrest in the U.S. in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
“I can’t sleep some of these nights!,” tweeted Mark-Anthony Kaye, a Canadian international who plays for Los Angeles FC. “My mind just races and goes on and on at the amount of possible scenarios in where I lose my life or I’m harmed by a police officer who took an oath to protect us. The police force has lost its credibility, the CHANGE needs to start internally!”
The league released a statement Monday saying the “entire Major League Soccer family is deeply saddened and horrified by the senseless murder of George Floyd.
“We stand united with the black community throughout our country and share in the pain, anger and frustration. We hear you. We see you. We support you. We are committed to use our voices and the platform of our league, our clubs and our players to continue to champion equality and social justice.”
Prior to the league release, Toronto defender Justin Morrow wondered what was taking so long.
“How long must we wait to hear from you regarding what’s going on across the country?” he tweeted. “Can’t you see that your players are speaking up and it matters to them? Your silence is deafening. Please support us.”
The MLSPA issued its statement Sunday.
“Like our players, we are deeply sickened by the continued inequality and violence around the country. We stand with all of those who have been subjected to unfair and unequal treatment because of the colour of their skin. We must commit as a society to end this horrible cycle.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter
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