FIFA investigates Swiss players' pro-Kosovo World Cup celebrations

Carrie Guzman
June 24, 2018

Switzerland now need only a draw against Costa Rica in their final Group E match, while Serbia need at least a point against Brazil to reach the knockout stages for the first time.

Switzerland's scorers on Friday, Xhaka and Shaqiri, celebrated their goals by making a "double eagle" gesture with their hands to represent the Albanian flag. While there are speculations that the gesture might inflame tension among Serbian nationalists and ethnic Albanians, there is also quite some buzz about it on social media.

The day after the comeback win which gives Switzerland a strong chance of making it to the next stage of the tournament in Russian Federation, a lot of the attention has focused on Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka.

Federation Internationale de Football Association said it had also opened proceedings against the Serbian FA for crowd disturbance and the display of political and offensive messages by Serbian fans.

World football's governing body said it was also probing Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic for alleged statements made after the game.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, less than a decade after the 1998-99 war between ethnic Albanian guerillas and Serb forces, but Belgrade - backed by its traditional ally Russian Federation - still refuses to recognise the move.

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".

The BBC reported that Krstajic was speaking to Serbian reporters about German match referee Felix Brych when he said: "I wouldn't give him either a yellow or red card, I would send him to The Hague".

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"A third fan suggested: "[Shaqiri is a] big game player and a massive improvement to the squad".

And so when Shaqiri walked out onto the pitch with the flag of Kosovo printed on one of his boots, he was booed by a section of Serbian fans. "Proud of you! Kosovo loves you!".

Thaci is due to meet his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels on Sunday for European Union-brokered talks on their countries' strained relationship.

The players denied that their celebration was political. "I mean, it's not right, it's not right at all".

"I understand them. I think it's normal, it's part of their life". "For me it's too political, they should concentrate on sports".

But Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic was unenthusiastic about the celebrations.

The Football Association are thought to be contemplating writing to FIFA to formally complain about the pair's 'political celebrations'. "You should always show respect", he said after the match.

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