Michael Wegmann, Knut Bobzien
When FCZ captain Yanick Brecher lifts the championship trophy after the end of the game on Sunday and the Letzigrund becomes a festival hut, he sits behind a window in his box, surrounded by his family. Maybe he’s smiling because he realizes what’s going on around him. Maybe not.
He is 92 years old. He is the former patriarch of the FCZ family, the personified FC Zurich: Sven Hotz. And he has dementia. “His world has gotten smaller and smaller in recent years,” says his daughter Kristine Scheiwiller to Blick, “Dad only recognizes his family – and not always.”
“Daddy is happy in these moments in the Letzigrund”
Even if she doesn’t know how much her father still learns from the outside world, certain habits are maintained: Sven Hotz still goes to his office at Kreuzplatz in Zurich twice a week, where he eats lunch with his long-standing employees. “The familiar voices and faces, the familiar environment do him good. You can tell how comfortable he feels, »says Kristine. The same applies to FCZ home games – only on Sundays because of the early start times. “You can tell that Daddy is happy at this moment. Even if he doesn’t remember where we’ve been afterwards.”
During these Letzi visits, together with her husband Heinz Scheiwiller, she tries to isolate her famous father as much as possible. Underground car park. Lift. lodge. For safety reasons, Hotz is in a wheelchair, although he can still walk. “He now gets nervous when there are too many people,” says Kristine.
Hotz and his legendary master dance in 2006
In addition, almost everyone who sees “Mr. Hotz” reflexively asks him to dance. A dance like back then at the 2006 championship celebrations on Helvetiaplatz. “My parents were passionate dancers, often went to balls, organized parties…”
In 2005, after winning the cup, he waltzed with star striker Keita in a festival hut near Letzigrund. A year later, when his very big dream of winning the championship trophy finally came true, he swayed exuberantly in front of thousands of people on the balcony.
He was finally able to reap what he had sown in his almost 20 years as President. And he had sown much. A lot of time, optimism, energy, work, passion and money. He never wanted to reveal how many million francs it was in the end. He was the boss, the patriarch of the FCZ family. He made the decision and he paid for it. “Without my dad, the FCZ would no longer exist,” says Kristine. She and her four siblings never bothered that he invested so much money in a football club. “On the contrary: we were proud of him. And still are.”
On October 12, the former FCZ patron will be 93. “He has the same birthday as Köbi Kuhn,” says his daughter. Like most of Hotz’ former companions, “Köbi National” is no longer alive. The greatest FCZ player of all time passed away in 2019 at the age of 76. “Years ago, my father told me how happy he was to have such a large family. Because his friends were fewer and fewer,” says Kristine.
Sven Hotz will never be forgotten for the FCZ family
In the meantime, Hotz has eleven grandfathers and four great-grandfathers. From his former FCZ family, the two ex-trainers Lucien Favre and Raimondo Ponte still keep in touch with the family of the former patron. Kristina: “Raimondo brings us home-made tiramisù every year on December 24th. Imagine what a nice gesture that is!”
It’s a tradition, says Ponte, remembering the past. “There is no longer a president like him today. He was a man of honour. We then interrupted our training sessions when he stopped by to shake his hands.” Ponte makes the idea “incredibly sad” that Hotz can’t remember those times.
In the winter of 2006, at the age of 77, Hotz put the fortunes of his FCZ in someone else’s hands. Kristine is happy with the Canepas as her father’s successors. “It’s great how Heliane and Ancillo run the club. They also do it with a lot of heart and commitment.”
Even if the former president will probably not realize everything at the season dernieres and the championship celebration of “his” FCZ on Sunday evening and others will dance and sway, Sven Hotz will remain unforgettable for the club and its supporters.