Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Florijana Ismaili: Tributes paid after body of missing Swiss player is found

Florijana Ismaili

The body of Swiss footballer Florijana Ismaili has been found, days after vanishing following a swimming accident at Lake Como in Italy.

The 24-year-old was declared missing on Saturday after jumping into the lake from a boat and failing to resurface.

Italian rescue services said her body was found at a depth of 204 metres on Tuesday.

"I am deeply saddened and shaken. It's hard to accept that Flori is gone," said Swiss women's boss Nils Nielsen.

Ismaili, who made her international debut in 2014, was the captain of BSC Young Boys.

"We are very upset and deeply affected," her club said.

She was capped 33 times by her country.

Liverpool's Swiss international forward Xherdan Shaqiri said he was "deeply shocked" by the news.

National women's team coach Nielsen added: "She always had a smile on her face and inspired us with her happy nature. She was someone who faced every challenge and set the example. I can only imagine what it must be like for all those who knew Flori longer and closer than me. But my thoughts are with them in these difficult times."

International team-mate Lia Walti, who plays in the WSL for Arsenal, said: "Until the last moment, I still had hoped for a miracle and wished in my heart that everything was just a bad dream.

"The news has hit me deeply and you can not find any right words at such a moment. I just hope very much that Flori did not have to suffer."

Another team-mate, Lara Dickenmann, said: "We are all incredibly sad and shocked. it is inconceivable that Flori is no longer with us."

"In the sky a star has gone out. We are very, very sad," said Swiss men's team national coach Vladimir Petkovic.

Ismaili was named in the Swiss league's team of year for four successive seasons, and the Swiss Association of Football Players (SAFP), which runs the vote, said she "deserves to receive this award when she is again voted one of the top 11 in Switzerland by team-mates" for the 2018-19 season.

SAFP president Lucien W Valloni said the player "was a very loyal member of SAFP, who has worked to improve conditions in women's football.

"SAFP will like to remember Florijana as a wonderful person and great player."

Gianni Infantino, the president of world football's governing body Fifa, also paid tribute saying: "This is an extremely sad moment for all the football community, particularly at a time when we gather at the Fifa Women's World Cup."

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin added: "Uefa and the European football community is deeply shocked and saddened by the death of Florijana Ismaili.

"We extend our deepest sympathy to her family and friends at this sad moment."

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