French soccer player apologizes for taking part in a match

Montpellier's Gaetan Laborde. (Daniel Cole/AP)

PARIS — French soccer player Gaetan Laborde has apologized for recently taking part in an improvised soccer match along with another player.

The Montpellier forward said he and Saint-Etienne forward Lois Diony played in Mont-de-Marsan in southwestern France on May 23.

“I am well aware that I have not set an example,” Laborde wrote on his Instagram account on Sunday. “I take full responsibility for my actions. I offer my humblest apologies.”

The French soccer leagues were cancelled by the government in late April because of the coronavirus pandemic.

France came out of lockdown on May 11, but gatherings of more than nine people are forbidden and people are still asked to respect social distancing.

Laborde said the lure of playing again after weeks in confinement proved too strong for him and Diony, who was born in Mont-de-Marsan and played with Laborde on Bordeaux’s youth teams.

“We were just soccer lovers who wanted to stretch their legs after all these weeks without a ball. The love of soccer was too strong,” Laborde said. “When I realized that lots of people had joined us on the field, and then when the police arrived, I realized right away that this wasn’t the best idea. That’s why I left right away while the match carried on.”

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