Roger Federer cops extraordinary snub from home town fans

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Roger Federer, pictured here at the Swiss Indoors event in Basel in 2019.
Roger Federer at the Swiss Indoors tournament in Basel in 2019. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

A push to rename the main sports arena in Roger Federer’s home town of Basel has once again fallen through after a petition failed to garner enough signatures.

There has been a push to rename St Jakobshalle to Roger Federer Arena in recent years, however it hasn’t managed to get over the line.

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On Monday, it was revealed a fan petition to change the name fell 1800 signatures short of the 3000 required.

It is believed the coronavirus pandemic hampered attempts to garner signatures.

Nevertheless, the inability to gather enough support for the name change is staggering considering Federer’s legendary status in his home town and around the world.

In Switzerland, the naming of streets and landmarks after famous people is usually only done after they have died.

In 2019, Basel-based politician Martina Bernasconi revealed the strange reasons why the name change proposal has received pushback.

When asked by UK publication The Express if she’d received objections from fellow politicians, Bernasconi replied: “Yes, many.

“The main arguments have been that Switzerland and Basel only honour dead people.

“And that Federer is a brand and he wants money.”

‘Too early’ to change arena name to honour Federer

Last year local councillor Thomas Gander said it was “too early” to honour Federer.

“It can be a nice gesture later to put such a memorial on for Federer,” Gander told The Express.

“But today it is still too early. And I’m almost sure he sees it that way.”

But Bernasconi argued that Federer’s status as an ambassador for Switzerland is all that matters.

“He is the most popular ambassador of Switzerland,” she said.

“Because he speaks the Basel dialect, people have a high identification with him.

“He was Born in Basel and lived 16 years in this town, visited the school and his first tennis club was Old Boys Basel. He married (wife Mirka) here and his parents live in Basel.

“All over the world, he is well known, so he is really popular, not only as a sportsman.”

Roger Federer, pictured here after winning his 10th Swiss Indoors title in Basel in 2019.
Roger Federer celebrates after winning his 10th Swiss Indoors title in Basel in 2019. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

St Jakobshalle hosts the Swiss Indoors tennis event, which Federer has won a record 10 times.

As a youngster he acted as a ball boy at the event, and hosts an annual pizza party for fellow ball kids after the tournament.

Federer has previously expressed his gratitude that talks are underway to honour him, pointing to some Aussie legends who have had venues named after them.

“I would be very happy,” Federer told Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger.

“It would be an absolute, incredible honour for me.

“I see what Rod Laver or Roy Emerson means when you have a stadium named after you and you can experience it.”

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