The body of former Swiss national team player Peter Jaks was found on railway tracks near Santo Spirito on the southwest cost of Italy early on Wednesday morning.

"/> The body of former Swiss national team player Peter Jaks was found on railway tracks near Santo Spirito on the southwest cost of Italy early on Wednesday morning.

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HOCKEY

Swiss hockey legend found dead in Italy

The body of former Swiss national team player Peter Jaks was found on railway tracks near Santo Spirito on the southwest cost of Italy early on Wednesday morning.

Jaks, 45, disappeared from his home in Bellizona in southern Switzerland on October 2nd, leaving his car, identity documents and mobile phone behind. He had last been seen at the railway station in Potenza, Italy, according to Swiss media reports.

Jaks told his relatives he was planning to visit his mother in the Czech Republic and sent a text message to one of his three daughters on Sunday morning.

Witnesses saw Jaks the same morning at Bellinzona railway station. He changed money and boarded a train to Italy. He was then observed by customs police at the Swiss-Italian border and was last seen alive on Monday morning at Potenza station where police officers checked his identity.

His body was discovered at 6.20am on Wednesday near the Santo Spirito level crossing. The driver of the Bari-Foggia train told police the victim did nothing to avoid the collision.

Final identification tests are still being conducted, but Italian authorities say they have enough evidence to believe the body is that of Peter Jaks. Some of his relatives recognised a tattoo on his right arm that read KRV, the initials of his daughters’ names, along with some personal belongings including a gold chain, a pair of brown shoes and a blue sweatshirt.

Swiss media reported that Jaks may have been suffering from depression due to his divorce from his wife as well as financial problems resulting from his lack of a stable job in the last two years. Friends said Jaks was quite an introverted person.

The death of Peter Jaks means Switzerland has lost one of its most accomplished athletes. Born in the Czech Republic in 1966, his family moved to Switzerland while he was a child. His professional career started at the age of 17, and the powerful forward became a legend among hockey fans in Switzerland, donning the national team jersey in 149 games between 1986 and 1998. The holder of 13 records in the Swiss National League, Jaks played more than 800 games for the Quinto, Lugano and Zurich teams.

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SPORTS

‘We don’t like France, Germany or Italy’: How linguistic diversity unites Swiss football fans

Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. But the support for the national football team, has no (linguistic) borders, as The Local found out ahead of Switzerland’s match against Italy on Friday.

'We don’t like France, Germany or Italy’: How linguistic diversity unites Swiss football fans
"We did it": Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer is ecstatic after win over France. Photo by Justin Setterfield / POOL / AFP

Images of an unsuspecting fan of the Swiss National Team (known here as the “Nati”, short for Fussballnationalmannschaft) made the rounds of social media after Switzerland’s epic win against France on Thursday, showing the world just how passionate and emotional team supporters are — despite language differences.

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame

The supporter featured in those photos, Luca Loutenbach, is from the French-speaking canton of Jura, but he is the embodiment of all the avid fans of the Nati, wherever in Switzerland they may live.

Loutenbach’s image went viral on Twitter

Interestingly, when individual Swiss teams play in Switzerland, they are followed by their supporters who sit in the stadiums and often heckle each other — each in their own language.

But when the Nati plays against foreign teams, everyone unites behind it. Rivalries and hostilities disappear, and the language is no barrier.

When the supporters can’t communicate in each other’s language, they revert to English, according to Jeremy from Vaud, who has followed the Nati numerous times, including to France for the 2016 Euro Cup and to the 2018 World Cup qualifications in Portugal.

Another supporter, Yves from Bern, went to Rome to watch the Nati play (and lose) against Italy on June 16th, along with 20 other supporters, some of whom he met through the Friends of the Swiss National Football Team Facebook page.

“Most of us were German speakers, but there were also four from the French part and one from the Italian. We had no trouble communicating, in with all three languages plus English”, Yves said.

But regardless of languages spoken by the fans, they all learned the team song, which is in Swiss-German.

The lyrics, set to the music from the song “The Lions Sleep Tonight” pay homage to the team’s forward, Breel Embolo:

“I de Nati, de Schwiizer Nati, do esch de Breel dihei.

Oh Embolo, oh Embolo”. 

Translated into English this means, “In the national team, the Swiss national team, there is Breel’s home. Oh Embolo, oh Embolo”.

Here are the fans singing this song in the French-speaking village of Lens, in canton Valais.

“Great ambiance”

When supporters follow the Nati to games abroad, “we post on social media where we are going to meet”, Jeremy said.

The meeting place is usually in front of a bar and then the throng of hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of fans from all over Switzerland go together to the stadium, singing the “Embolo” song.

“The ambiance is really great”, Jeremy said.

Yves noted that he made many friends among other supporters during these jaunts, including those from other linguistic regions.

“When Nati plays, we are all behind it”.

And if Switzerland didn’t qualify for the Euro, would the fans support teams from linguistically neighbouring countries?

“No”, Jeremy said. “The Swiss don’t like France or Germany”.

What about Italy?

“We don’t like Italy either”.

That is one message that is not lost in translation.

READ MORE: Where can I watch Switzerland’s Euro 2020 matches in Zurich?

READ MORE: Where can I watch Switzerland’s Euro 2020 matches in Geneva?

READ MORE: Where can I watch Switzerland’s Euro 2020 matches in Bern?

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