Granit Xhaka And Xherdan Shaqiri Goal Celebrations Bring Balkan Politics To World Cup

Everything is about the World Cup at the moment, isn't it? Some LADs have taken a cardboard cut out of their mate, aliens are watching over one of the stadiums and Ronaldo is just showing off.

Now, it's Switzerland stealing the limelight after their 2-1 win against Serbia saw Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri celebrating with 'Albanian Eagle' gestures - which could land them in trouble, according to the Independent.

The pair, who both have Albanian heritage but grew up in Switzerland, turned Friday night's match around after Serbia had taken the initial lead.

Both 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 national flag, The Guardian have reported.

Apparently the gesture is likely to inflame tensions among Serbian nationalists and ethnic Albanians.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

26-year-old Shaqiri, who plays for Stoke City, said after the match that 'it's just emotion' when he was quizzed about the way he celebrated.

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."

And Switzerland's coach, Vladimir Petkovic, added: "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."

Granit Xhaka. Credit: PA
Granit Xhaka. Credit: PA

Arsenal midfielder Xhaka, 25, was born to Albanian parents who were originally from Serbia.

In 1986, his father was sentenced to three and a half years in a Yugoslav prison for protesting against majority-Serbian rule in Kosovo. Xhaka has joint Swiss and Kosovar nationality.

Shaqiri was born in Yugoslavia to Albanian Kosovar parents, but moved to Switzerland in 1992 with his parents and three siblings.

In the 90s there were a number of brutal conflicts as the former Yugoslavia broke up. The Kosovo War ended in 1999 and independence from Serbia was declared in 2008.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

After the match, Serbian boss Mladen Krstajic would not be drawn into the controversy.

He said: "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."

Speaking to Players' Tribune, Shaqiri said: "When the war started it became impossible to go back [to Kosovo], and things were very difficult for my family members who were stuck there.

"My uncle's house was burned to the ground and there was a lot of suffering.

"My father would send as much money back as he could, so we never had any extra spending money when I was growing up, except for maybe one thing on birthdays."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd is a Journalist at LADbible. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class BA in Journalism. Becky previously worked as Chief Reporter at Cavendish Press, supplying news and feature stories to national newspapers and women's magazines.

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