Plans to rename a Basel arena after tennis great Roger Federer have faced opposition despite the popularity of the Swiss in his home city.
Federer has won the Swiss Indoors title a record nine times and there have been calls to name the event’s St Jakobshalle arena after the 37-year-old.
Issues relating to costs and Swiss customs have proved to be stumbling blocks, but Basel councillor Martina Bernasconi has nevertheless launched a petition calling for the name change. The petition needs 10,000 signatures to be considered, but has so far only gathered 236 names.
Bernasconi has admitted that Switzerland’s stance of only honouring dead people is problematic for the campaign, which seeks to rename the facility as the Roger Federer Arena.
“The main arguments (against) have been that Switzerland and Basel only honour dead people,” Bernasconi said, according to the news.com.au website. “And that Federer is a brand and he wants money.”
Bernasconi feels that the status of Federer, who has won 20 grand slam singles titles during his illustrious career, should be enough to warrant renaming the arena in his honour.
“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 for 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.”
Federer has said it would be an honour to have the arena named after him.