FIFA World Cup News: Shaqiri and Xhaka stir up Balkan politics after controversial goal celebrations

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  • Switzerland nationals who have Albanian heritage, Shaqiri and Xhaka, stirred up political tensions by making nationalist symbols in the match against Serbia
  • Xhaka Celebration and Shaqiri celebration is now making waves in the football World Cup news

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka and Stoke City winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who are on international duty at the 2018 FIFA World Cup for Switzerland, have almost stirred up political tensions in the Balkans, and the FIFA World Cup news 2018, after they used an Albanian nationalist symbol to celebrate their goals against Serbia in a 2-1 Group E victory in Kaliningrad on Friday. It started with the Xhaka celebration which came in the 52nd minute of the match when the Arsenal man netted an explosive shot from way outside the box to equalise the score 1-1, and was followed by Shaqiri celebration after he scored another in the 90th minute to seal the victory.

Both of the players who were involved in the controversy, landing in FIFA World Cup news 2018, have ethnic Albanian heritage but were brought up in Switzerland. The duo had turned the match 360 degrees to take Switzerland to a much-needed Group E win, after Serbia had opened scoring when Aleksandar Mitrovic had headed a corner kick early in the first half.

What was so controversial about Xhaka and Shaqiri celebration?

After scoring their goals, both the players put their open hands together with their thumbs locked and fingers outstretched to make a symbol which resembles the double-headed eagle that is displayed on Albania’s national flag. The thumbs represent the heads of the two eagles, while the fingers look like the feathers.

The gesture has the potential of sparking up political tensions among Serbian nationalists and ethnic Albanians, which could go way beyond the football field.

Shaqiri was born in Kosovo, which is the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. However, Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence and it is mainly because of this that the relations between the two countries remain tense. Xhaka’s parents are hail from Kosovo and are of Albanian nationality, and it has come to fore, that the Arsenal midfielder’s father was imprisoned in erstwhile Yugoslavia for campaigning in favour of Kosova’s independence.

Coming to the incident of Shaqiri celebration, the Stoke City winger explained after the match was over, that “it’s just emotion”. As reported by The Guardian, he said, “I think in football you have always emotions. You can see what I did and I think it’s just emotion. I’m very happy to score this goal. It’s not more. I think we don’t have to speak about this now.”

Speaking about Shaqiri and Xhaka celebration, Swiss coach says no need to mix politics and football

Speaking about the incident which landed the duo in football World Cup news, the Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic said, “You should never mix politics and football. It’s clear that emotions show up and that’s how things happen. I think we all together need to steer away from politics in football and we should focus on this sport as a beautiful game and something that brings people together.”


On the other hand, after the match was over, the Serbian coach Mladen Krstajic was also asked to comment on the incident making waves in the football World Cup news, but he rejected to be drawn into the controversy, saying, “I don’t have any comment. I don’t deal with these things. I am a man of sports and this is what I am going to stay. I have no comment.”

The 2-1 win puts Switzerland into second place in Group E with four points, same as Brazil, who beat Costa Rica 2-0 earlier in the day. Provide that Switzerland do not lose to Costa Rica on Wednesday, they will qualify to the next stage – the round of 16. The same question will be posed for Brazil when they face Serbia on the same day and time.

Watch: Serbia v Switzerland | Highlights | 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

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