Swiss tennis players Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Belinda Bencic play a greater role in shaping the world’s opinion of Switzerland than FIFA’s suspended president Sepp Blatter, according to Presence Switzerland, the section of the foreign ministry responsible for Switzerland’s image abroad.
This view has been formed despite the arrests of several FIFA officials in Zurich this year and criminal investigations being opened into football’s world governing body both in Switzerland and the United States.
Presence Switzerland thinks the world’s media have placed the blame squarely on FIFA’s shoulders rather than its host country.
“The consequences of the FIFA affair for Switzerland's image have therefore been limited and the active role played by the Swiss judicial authorities, as well as the cabinet’s efforts to fight corruption in sport, were even reported on favourably,” it said on Tuesday.
By contrast, the success of Switzerland’s tennis stars greatly enhanced Switzerland’s image in 2015, if Presence Switzerland boss Nicolas Bideau’s interpretation of the foreign press is anything to go by.
Wawrinka made headlines around the world in June when he defeated Novak Djokovic to win the French Open; Federer ended the year as world number two. Eighteen-year-old Bencic started the year ranked 33 and climbed to 14.
“This has tremendous benefits for Switzerland’s image because tennis combines three great qualities: excellence, a fighting spirit and creativity. And these are values that are a great asset to our country’s reputation,” he stated.
However, the Swiss National Bank’s decision to abandon its defence of the franc in January did result in negative headlines that damaged the country’s image abroad.
“The media’s response was that the strong Swiss franc would reduce the appeal and competitiveness of Switzerland as a business location,” said Presence Switzerland.
It added that despite this, Switzerland continued to enjoy a good reputation overall, partly thanks to being ranked high in global quality of living studies.