A popular initiative has been launched in Switzerland to rename Basel’s St Jakobshalle stadium the ‘Roger Federer Arena’ after the Swiss tennis legend who hails from the city.
Two local politicians - Martina Bernasconi and Hans Furer - launched the initiative on Friday after previous failed attempts to get the proposal passed by the parliaments of Basel City and Basel Country.
They have 18 months to collect the 3,000 signatures to take citizens to the polls on the renaming issue. Those behind the initiative are confident of gathering enough signatures by September.
Basel’s St Jakobshalle stadium holds the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament, which Federer has won a record nine times. The two politicians claim that Federer is not against the name change, but he will not speak out publicly on the matter.
The 37-year-old winner of 20 Grand Slams has already been honoured in his hometown of Basel. In 2017, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Basel. But it is unlikely that a street or square in the city will bear his name in the near future as this is only possible posthumously. The western Swiss city of Biel was more accommodating: in 2016, a street was named “Roger Federer Alley”.