FOUR years on from his tragic accident, Michael Schumacher remains front page news.
French sports daily L’Equipe this week splashed with a silhouette of the Formula One legend as it marked the anniversary of the day he suffered major brain trauma after falling and hitting his head on a rock while skiing in the French Alps. “Schumi, we do not forget you,” the headline trumpeted.
But an extensive series of articles inside the edition featured scant new detail.
Four years on from his tragic accident, Michael Schumacher fans remain firmly in the dark about his condition.
His management’s stance that his health is “not a public issue” has left basic questions like whether he is able to talk unanswered.
But the lack of information has done nothing to abate the ravenous appetite for Schumacher news.
Malicious rumours about the 48-year-old’s condition spread like wildfire on the internet, with fake YouTube videos claiming to include footage of his accident and recovery continue to rack up tens of thousands of views.
But the reality is the last Schumacher update from inside his inner circle was more than a year ago, when his lawyer told CNN the German still “cannot walk” during court proceedings for a lawsuit against a magazine that had claimed otherwise.
Since then, silence. This is sport’s greatest mystery and its best-kept secret. But why?
Four years on from his tragic accident, the Michael Schumacher publicity machine continues to roll on.
His official Facebook page is regularly updated with flashbacks to key moments in his career, his website points to merchandise for sale and a charity which was established on the back of the #keepfighting hashtag which began trending after his crash recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.
“Many thanks to all who support us in encouraging other people to never give up,” Schumacher’s son, Mick, wrote on Instagram last week.
“For many years, our family has received positive energy from people who feel inspired by my father. We want to channel this energy into a force that does good by helping in areas my dad has always supported.”
But the charity’s website has no mention of the crash, leaving visitors to assume Keep Fighting refers to Schumacher’s attitude during his racing career, rather than his battle to recover from brain trauma.
Schumacher’s team have also been very cautious in their management of Schumacher’s son, Mick, as his own motorsport career begins to show signs of promise.
Mick, then 14, was alongside his father as they descended Combe de Saulire below the Dent de Burgin on December 29, but journalists have reportedly been instructed not to ask the F3 driver about it on the rare occasions he’s made available to the press.
Schumacher’s daughter Gina-Marie, who competes in horse riding, will often post inspirational messages to Instagram with the #keepfighting hashtag, but never any direct reference to her father.
It’s left fans divided over whether they deserve greater inclusion in their hero’s journey — or whether this protective view of his private life should be respected.
“This lack of news is a kind of affront to all his supporters,” one posted in response to L’Equipe’s coverage. “It was a public profession, so there are advantages but also disadvantages … and his fans would like to know if he is better or if he stayed very bad.”
But another disagreed. “His family his friends are right to protect him! Why show the pictures of a former tetraplegic champion, mute? Dignity trumps all.”
Four years on from his tragic accident, Michael Schumacher remains a hot topic.
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