Manager: Schumacher's health to remain private matter

BERLIN (AP) The condition of Michael Schumacher's health will remain closely guarded among family and close associates, the former Formula One champion's manager said Saturday.

''Michael's health is not a public issue, and so we will continue to make no comment in that regard,'' Sabine Kehm said in a statement. ''We have to protect his intimate sphere. Legally seen and in the longer term, every statement related to his health would diminish the extent of his intimate sphere.''

Schumacher sustained severe head injuries in a skiing accident in France on Dec. 29, 2013 and has been cared for at his home in Switzerland since September 2014.

Kehm said the Schumacher family was aware that fans were hoping for news of the 47-year-old German's condition, ''but we do this with full commitment to Michael's guidelines and can only thank people for their understanding.''

Kehm announced that the family was launching a ''Keep Fighting Initiative'' as a sign of gratitude to fans and to encourage people inspired by Schumacher's career ''to keep fighting and never give up.''

Schumacher's accident happened on a family vacation as he was skiing with his son at the Meribel ski resort in the French Alps. The avid skier hit the right side of his head on a rock, cracking his helmet. Doctors operated to remove blood clots from his brain, but some were left because they were too deeply embedded.

Schumacher's condition stabilized after he was placed in a drug-induced coma, from which he later emerged.

''Michael has always been very protective of his privacy, even during the most successful times of his career. He has always made sure there is a clear and distinct line between his public persona and his private one,'' Kehm said.

Schumacher, who made his name with Benetton before joining Ferrari in 1996, won a record seven F1 titles and 91 races.

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