Saturday, 25 May, 2019

Kosovo-Tied Swiss Players Criticized For Albania Gesture At World Cup Game

Aleksandar Mitrovic of Serbia looks dejected following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Serbia and Switzerland at Kaliningrad Stadium Kosovo-Tied Swiss Players Criticized For Albania Gesture At World Cup Game
Shannon Reynolds | 25 June, 2018, 22:40

The pair is being investigated for using Albanian nationalist symbols to celebrate their goals on Friday in Switzerland's 2-1 win over Serbia, placed 66th in Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings, in Group E match in Kaliningrad.

But the pro-Kosovo "double eagle" gesture flashed by Swiss goal-scorers Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri shows that honouring another nation after the ball crosses the line can ruffle some feathers.

The double eagle symbol represents the Albanian flag and is viewed a symbol of defiance in Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008 in a move that Serbia still refuses to recognise.

A strike from Xherdan Shaqiri in stoppage time completed Switzerland's comeback from a goal down and means Serbia face the daunting task of beating Brazil in their final game on Wednesday to guarantee their place in the next round.

Socialist lawmaker Geraldine Savary described the rhetoric on the right as "a shame", given the "happiness" both players had brought to Swiss fans. "Xhaka and Shaqiri played with real heart but forgot to keep cool heads when they celebrated, and that is the big flaw of this wonderfully stirring evening".

The football governing body has also reportedly begun a probe into supposed comments made by Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic after the controversial World Cup encounter, as well as against the Serbia FA for potential "crowd disturbance and the display of political and offensive messages", according to the Guardian.

The Serbian media called Shaqiri's goal gesture "shameful provocation".

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Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo: 'Argentina match will be a war'
And both those goals were struck by Musa, who unnoticeably has recorded a better start to the World Cup campaign in 2018. So, he has sort of challenged Messi as Argentina's hero ahead of their clash.

World Cup qualifying scenarios for every team before final group games
Switzerland and Brazil only need a draw draws to go through, while it's a must-win for Serbia against Brazil on Thursday at 6am. A win for Nigeria would see them qualify and even a draw would be good enough unless Iceland win by at least two clear goals.

"You should never mix politics and football", he said.

Xhaka scored a second-half equalizer, and Shaqiri scored the 90th-minute victor - and both celebrated with the two-headed eagle gesture.

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".

Swiss national team delegate Claudio Sulser said of the fines: "We take note of the decision and are happy that we can now focus exclusively on football". Brazil and Switzerland both have 4 points, with the latter playing against Costa Rica, who have collected no points thus far.

Shaqiri was born in Kosovo and plays with the Kosovan flag stitched into his boots.

Slavisa Kokeza's comments followed Friday's World Cup loss to Switzerland.

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