Published: Sun, June 24, 2018
Sport | By

Federation Internationale de Football Association eyes goal celebrations by Swiss players Xhaka, Shaqiri

Federation Internationale de Football Association eyes goal celebrations by Swiss players Xhaka, Shaqiri

"Why provocative? It's a symbol of the Albanian flag".

Fifa also said it has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Serbian Football Association for crowd disturbance and the display of political and offensive messages by Serbian fans.

However, many fans noticed a symbol that both Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri made to celebrate their respective goals. There has been longstanding tensions in that region which go back decades but went up in 2008 after Kosovo declared independence, something the nation of Serbia does not recognise.

Both players put their open hands together with their thumbs locked and fingers outstretched to make what looks like the double-headed eagle displayed on Albania's flag.

His team-mate and Arsenal player Granit Xhaka, who is of the same descent as Shaqiri, celebrated in a similar manner when his thunderbolt shot levelled the game earlier on.

"In football you have always emotions and you can see what I did and it's just emotion", he said in reference to his controversial celebration. "After making a "double eagle" gesture clearly alluding to his (ethnic) Albanian origins, he was running on the pitch trying to attract the attention of the cameras".

His father, an ethnic Albanian, was imprisoned in Serbia in the 1980s. "A greeting for the people in the country where my parents come from", said Xhaka after the victory against Serbia. "It was a provocation, we were playing against Switzerland, not Kosovo", official Jovan Surbatovic said. It was hard for us Swiss and for the dual citizens it was even tougher. "That's what you f*****g do blood!" he shouted while watching the game in a pub.

"It's clear that emotions surface".

NZZ described Shaqiri and Xhaka as the Switzerland's two most talented footballers of their generation but said they "should have let the football speak for itself". We are footballers, not politicians...

Albania's president applauded the pair but a pro-government Serbian newspaper said they had "humiliated" Switzerland.

Some Swiss papers also called the gesture a provocation betraying a lack of political sensitivity.

It also noted, however, that this debate about the Swiss football team was far from dead and buried: recently, conservative Swiss magazine Weltwoche described the team as "a seasoned group of mercenaries with a very Balkan touch, advantageously complemented by several "Helvetised" Africans'".

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