MONTREAL – In the wake of public comments from Laurent Ciman and his wife regarding their pressing, emotional family situation, the Montreal Impact have promised to "double [their] efforts" to help the Cimans get the best care for their autistic daughter.
The move comes after Ciman spoke to the media following Montreal’s 3-0 win over Columbus Crew SC last Saturday, reiterating that his five-year-old daughter, Nina, was the main reason he departed Belgian club Standard Liege to join the Impact in January.
“I think the system is competent, or I wouldn’t have moved here,” Ciman told reporters. “There are solutions. Now, there’s stuff to do. I’ve done everything I can. My wife has done everything she can. Now, we’re waiting for the Impact to do the rest.”
On Wednesday morning, Belgian paper Het Laatste Nieuws reported comments from Ciman’s wife, Diana.
“It’s not cheap,” she told HLN, as reported by 7 sur 7. “Nina needs between 30 and 40 hours of therapy per week, for 100 Canadian dollars an hour. We never demanded a Ferrari or a villa, only care for our daughter. The conditions were clear: help us benefit from public health care. There was no problem for the club.”
While Canadian public health care is free, waiting times can be demanding on patients. Diana Ciman reckons that her daughter could wait “between 15 and 24 months.” In the meantime, she said, the couple went out and found private health care for Nina, covering the costs themselves.
The Cimans met with the Impact front office on Tuesday afternoon. Impact Vice President Richard Legendre was positive about the meeting and said that both parties will find a solution.
“They didn’t find every service they needed in the public system,” Legendre told reporters. “They went to the private system, and costs kept increasing. As soon as we heard that it became an important issue, we said we would be open to lend a hand.”
Asked if there may have been a misunderstanding over the deal in place to help Nina, Legendre conceded that the Impact may have not met specific expectations that the Cimans had. The club, he said, will “double [their] efforts” on that matter.
Legendre also insisted that contacts between the club and the Cimans had been frequent of late, which prompted him not to comment on the timing of the Cimans’ reaction. He did, however, state that he understood why they, as parents, would do so.
“Little Nina – as well as Achille, the younger one – is their priority,” Legendre said. “It’s the same for all of us. We want to help. We will help. I’ve told them over and over: We’ll get there. What’s important to keep in mind, with all this, it’s that the parents aren’t satisfied with the results. No matter how, if we think we’ve done what we had to do, and they don’t think so, in the end, we have to get better results.”
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On the field, meanwhile, Ciman has trained as usual, keeping off-field and on-field matters separate. Head coach Frank Klopas trusts that his player’s performance will not be affected by the situation.
“If there was an issue where I felt that his game [was affected], I would approach him and talk to him,” Klopas said. “He hasn’t said anything to me, and I don’t think it has gone to a point like that. I haven’t noticed anything from him.”
Ciman hasn’t spoken to the media since last Saturday in the locker room. On his Twitter account, however, he has replied to a fan by pointing out that “the Impact have said what they had to say, and what they do want to say. I will give my side of the story when the time is right.”
Along with goalkeeper Evan Bush, Ciman has played the most minutes (1,350 in 15 games) for the Impact this season. He has emerged as Montreal’s new leader in defense, while also chipping in with a goal and an assist.