Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Zhaka’s Fifa World Cup goal celebrations for Switzerland cause political row

The Switzerland pair, who trace their roots back to Kosovo, celebrate scoring in 2-1 win over Serbia with ‘double eagle’ gesture

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 June, 2018, 5:48pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 June, 2018, 5:48pm

Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic said that politics and football should “never mix” after two players celebrated goals in a 2-1 victory over Serbia with political gestures.

Xherdan Shaqiri’s last-minute winner capped an impressive comeback for the Swiss in an eventful group E encounter in Kaliningrad after Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka levelled following Aleksandar Mitrovic’s opener.

Both Shaqiri and Xhaka trace their roots back to Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, which stoked tensions before and during Friday’s clash.

Both Shaqiri and Xhaka pointedly celebrated scoring by making a ‘double eagle’ gesture with their hands representing the Kosovo flag, viewed as a symbol of defiance.

Although the win puts Switzerland in pole position to make it out of a tough group containing five-times winners Brazil, Petkovic was unimpressed with his players’ celebrations.

“You should never mix politics and football, it’s good to be a fan and important to show respect,” he told reporters after the game.

“It’s clear that emotions surface. I think on and off the pitch we need to steer away from politics in football and we should focus on this as a sport that brings people together.”

Shaqiri had been booed relentlessly by Serbia fans throughout a high-quality match, but the Stoke City forward had the last laugh with his last-ditch winner.

“In football you have always emotions and you can see what I did and it’s just emotion,” he said in reference to his controversial celebration.

“I’m very happy to score the goal, that’s all.”

Xhaka, whose 52rd-minute piledriver set up the Swiss comeback, also made the ‘double eagle’ gesture after his goal.

His father, an ethnic Albanian, was imprisoned in Serbia in the 1980s.

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.