Faces of Football

Faces of Football: Switzerland - a letter to the national team

90min
Image by Matthew Burt - 90min
Image by Matthew Burt - 90min /
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Dear Swiss national team,

My name is Sonja Missio and I am a Swiss living in Toronto, Canada. Despite living so far away, I always feel my Swiss roots while watching the national team. 

To be honest, I can’t remember the first time I watched you play. I didn’t have an epiphany or an exact moment when I fell in love with the team. No fairytale story or core memory; you’ve just always been there, like an undercurrent that is simply part of my life. 

I think that’s the beauty of supporting your country: you don’t need to have that pin-point moment when you fell in love, like you would with a club team. No, your love and support for your country is just always there, a sense of pride and belonging that you can’t describe in words. 

It’s not a decision, but rather a feeling; one that becomes so entrenched in the makeup of your being, that you almost take it for granted. It’s not a question of ‘why do I support the Swiss national team?’, but rather, ‘how could I not support the Swiss national team?’

Don’t get me wrong, I have moments: favourite moments, horrible moments, and proud moments that live inside me. I remember Sommer’s exact arm positions when he saved the Mbappe penalty (Euro 2020). I remember Alexander Frei’s face when he collided knee-to-knee with Zdenek Grygera just before halftime (Euro 2008). And I remember Gelson Fernandes’ goal celebration after he scored against Spain (World Cup 2010).

And these moments have morphed into memories that now live inside my head. Pieces of time that are long gone, but still evoke the same emotion from me as they did on the day they happened. 

I mean, generally speaking, that’s how memories work. However, this World Cup will be different. This World Cup, these soon-to-be memories won’t just be for me; this year I get to share them. 

This is the first year I am watching a World Cup with my son. He’ll still be less than a year old by the time the tournament starts, but I can’t wait for the two of us to watch you take to the pitch. 

I was pregnant with him last summer, when you knocked out France in the Euro. I think that experience left a mark on him; he knew, before he was born, how to feel the love and the passion for the Swiss national team. 

I also think that’s what it means to be Swiss. People joke about our neutrality, but we’re far from neutral when it comes to football. Looking into any stadium, you can spot the Swiss fans - with our cowbells and square flags - instantly. There may not be a lot of us, but what we lack in numbers, we make up in support. 

The whole country has your back. We will celebrate your triumphs and support you in your struggles. Whether it’s your fans back home in Switzerland or those of us living abroad, we will help carry you through. 

And, this year, you have one more little fan who will watch you, wide-eyed, not understanding what’s going on, but knowing that it’s something special. 

And, hopefully, in 18 years, he too will read a letter from a fan, cheering and supporting the team on, right before he runs out onto the pitch taking his place at centre back for La Nati

Alles gueti und viel schwein,

Sonja Cori Missio (and Max)

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