Winemaker rides to Geneva soccer club’s aid

A foundation headed by a local winemaker has come to the rescue of Geneva’s struggling football team, Servette FC, which was facing bankruptcy with debts of five million francs.

Winemaker rides to Geneva soccer club's aid

The president of Servette, Hugh Quennec, announced on Monday that he was selling his shares in the club to Fondation 1890.

In a press release Quennec said players and staff, who have gone without pay since April, would be paid within a week.

The Swiss Football League last week demoted the 125-year-old team to the third division Promotion League and its precarious finances threatened to sink it to an even lower league.

“After a difficult period for the club, I am happy to be able to announce that a good solution, sustainable and serious, has been found to assure the future of the club,” Quennec said in a French-language press release.

The foundation taking over the team is being led by Didier Fischer, chairman of the Cave Genève, Geneva’s biggest wine producer, and managing director of the Morand distillery in the canton of Valais.

Fischer is also chairman of Naxoo, the local cable operator.

Quennec said that the foundation was still in the process of being formally created.

But he said its owners will have the means not only to avoid the club plunging into bankruptcy but the “sufficient resources to assure its future”.

Fischer has not commented publicly on the announcement but a press conference has been scheduled for June 17th.

Further details are expected to then emerge on the future of the club and its relationship with the canton of Geneva, owner of the 30,000-seat Stade de Genève, where Servette has been the main tenant.

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‘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.