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Sion 2026 chief steps down amid Swiss Football League probe

Christian Constantin has stepped down as the figurehead of Sion’s bid for the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games amid an investigation by the Swiss Football League (SFL) into an incident that occurred during a game yesterday (Thursday).

Constantin is the president of Sion’s Super League team and was filmed confronting pundit Rolf Fringer after his club won 2-1 at Lugano. In a statement, the SFL said it “vehemently condemned such behaviour” and requested that its disciplinary commission investigate the matter.

“The FC Sion president confirmed the facts in a television interview,” the SFL said in a statement.

Constantin told Fringer’s broadcaster that the analyst deserved the “kick in the backside” he got for recent criticism of how Sion was run. Constantin today (Friday) offered his resignation as vice-president of the Sion 2026 bid committee.

Sion 2026 president Jean-Philippe Rochat told radio station Rhone FM: “It’s a request that I accepted… it allows us to avoid negative consequences for Sion 2026.”

Constantin is a controversial figure in Swiss football circles and has been the driving force behind Sion’s Olympic bid. In April, Switzerland’s Parliament of Sport, comprising the 85 member associations of the Swiss Olympic body, approved Sion’s bid. The Parliament of Sport unanimously voted in favour of the bid, which was given the green light by Swiss Olympic’s executive board in March.

The bid now requires the approval of the Swiss government, which could insist that a public referendum takes place. Swiss Olympic will submit a detailed breakdown of the proposed project to the government this autumn.

The bidding process for the 2026 Games is set to officially commence later this month, with the opening of the invitation phase on September 29. In July, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved changes to the candidature process for the winter Olympic Games, with prospective host cities to benefit from more assistance and reduced costs when bidding for the 2026 event.

The invitation phase for the winter Games will expand to a full year in a move designed to give National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and cities more time to develop proposals. The formal candidature phase will also shorten from two years to one. 

Christophe Dubi, executive director for the Olympic Games, last week said the IOC is in discussions with Sion, along with Innsbruck (Austria), Calgary (Canada) and Stockholm (Sweden). The likes of Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Sapporo (Japan) have also expressed an interest in bidding, while Salt Lake City and Denver have been linked to a US bid for the 2026 Games.