Stoke City winger could face punishment for World Cup celebrations

Doug Mendoza
June 24, 2018

Arsenal's Xhaka and Shaqiri of Stoke - who are of Albanian-Kosovan heritage - celebrated their goals in the World Cup Group E win by putting their hands together to form a double-headed eagle, representative of the one on the Albanian flag.

This nationalist symbol risked inflaming tensions in the Balkans among Serbians - who do not recognise Kosovo's independence - and ethnic Albanians.

Stoke City's Shaqiri was born in Kosovo while Xhaka was born in Switzerland to a family from Kosovo.

Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared independence in 2008.

FIFA's disciplinary committee has opened proceedings against Swiss players Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri for goal celebrations during their 2-1 win over Serbia in Kaliningrad.

Serbian newspapers also noted that Shaqiri had both Swiss and Kosovar flags on his shoes during the match.

"Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka have talented feet like no one else in this national team".

The Football Association are thought to be contemplating writing to FIFA to formally complain about the pair's 'political celebrations'.

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After the game had finished, the Serbian FA said that they would be making a complaint about both players' actions to Federation Internationale de Football Association.

"We are wondering why Serbia is the only team in the World Cup where the match official chose to ignore controversial situations at it raises the legitimate question whether the VAR is being used selectively".

Under FIFA rules, this is deemed as provocative and political, and FIFA have since opened disciplinary proceedings against the duo.

Serbia was furious when Brych failed to award a spot-kick in the 66th minute after Aleksandar Mitrovic was wrestled to the ground in the penalty area by Swiss defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schaer.

Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic after the match reproached the players, saying that soccer and politics should "never mix".

Meanwhile, the Serbian papers also slammed what they labelled "shameful provocation" by Shaqiri and Xhaka.

Both the Switzerland and Serbia teams played down any political factors before the game last Friday.

Other reports by GizPress

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