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FOOTBALL

Tears as Neuchatel Xamax sack four players

Beleaguered Swiss football club Neuchatel Xamax announced on Wednesday that they have sacked four players, including captain Stephane Besle, with immediate effect.

The other sacked players were Javier Arizmendie, Vincent Bikana and Haris Seferovic, according to Swiss media reports.

The move came the day after the Swiss Football League (SFL) deducted a further four points from Xamax for breaches of licensing rules, while the club’s players are still awaiting their salaries for November and December.

Besle, 28, was sacked after a meeting in the office of vice-president Islam Satujev, which he left in tears.

The Frenchman had played almost 200 league matches since joining Xamax from Lens in 2005 and was made club captain last summer.

Team spokesperson Raoul Savoy said that the three other players had been let go for sporting reasons.

Xamax have had several run-ins with the Swiss authorities since Chechen businessman Bulat Chagaev bought the club in May for an estimated 1.2 million Swiss francs ($1.3m).

On December 14th, the SFL docked Xamax four points for failing to provide financial details pertinent to the awarding of operating licences.

Xamax have four days to appeal against the punishment handed down on Tuesday.

On November 2nd, the SFL imposed a fine of 20,000 Swiss francs for failing to provide “information and financial documents” following Chagaev’s takeover.

Swiss prosecutors charged the businessman with forgery on November 24th, amid media reports he allegedly submitted a falsified bank document to prove his solvency during a bankruptcy trial.

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FOOTBALL

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

A Swiss super fan who has shot to fame after images of him watching Switzerland’s win over France went viral told the media he was unaware of his viral fame - but that he was overwhelmed with the world’s attention.

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

Like most Swiss football fans, Luca Loutenbach’s Monday evening – highlighted by a surprise upset win over the current World Champions and tournament favourite France – went about as well as you could have expected. 

But while his side were putting on the pressure through late goals to push the game into extra time, Loutenbach’s image was being shared across the world. 

Two pictures of Loutenbach, juxtaposed from before and after Switzerland scored an equaliser in the 90th minute to send the game to extra time, were widely shared. 

The images were even shared by Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, who congratulated Switzerland and said the images summed up the beauty of football. 

On Tuesday, Loutenbach spoke with Swiss tabloid Blick to tell the story. He said he had no idea about the images as his phone had no reception in Romania – and only found out after the game. 

“I didn’t have a network during the game. But some fans around me were connected to the internet and quickly realized what was happening. What an incredible buzz!” said the man from the canton of Jura. 

While Switzerland have made it further than they have in their history in the tournament, Loutenbach is far from a bandwagon fan. He told Blick he’s seen around 50 national team games before. 

“It’s the most beautiful day in the history of Swiss football, let’s not be afraid of saying it. It is the accomplishment of the immense work of the ASF (Federation), of (coach) Petkovic and of the whole team” he said. 

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