Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri’s goal celebration brings politics into the World Cup.
When Aleksandar Mitrovic slammed the ball home in the 5th minute of the encounter between Serbia and Switzerland, we got the signs of what the game is likely to be. It was a game which not only had a significance in the World Cup, but also in a political sense.
The political side of the game was kept under the radar for most parts of the game until the Swiss pair of Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri celebrated their twin goals against Serbia which gave the Swiss side a 2-1 victory.
Xhaka and Shaqiri have risked inflaming political tensions in the Balkans after they used an Albanian nationalist symbol to celebrate their goals against Serbia. The Swiss pair has an ethnic Albanian heritage despite growing up in the alpine country.
Both the players put their hands open together with their thumbs locked down and fingers outstretched. The celebration signified and looked like the double-headed eagle displayed on Albania’s national flag. The thumbs were emoted in as the head of the eagle, with the fingers as the wings.
Celebration flared the temper between the sides:
The celebration and gesture are likely to raise the temper between the two countries, and also among the ethnic Albanians. The Stoke midfielder was born in Kosovo, which was a former Serbian province. The relation between the two countries still remains slightly lip-tight and controversial.
Granit Xhaka's father, an Albanian, was a political prisoner in #SRB in the 1980s.
The celebration tonight? A double eagle – that of the Albanian flag. 🇦🇱
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) June 22, 2018
Xhaka’s parents are originally from Kosovo of the Albanian heritage. The Arsenal midfielder’s father was imprisoned in the former Yugoslavia for campaigning in favor of Kosovan independence.
After the match, Xhakiri said “I think in football you have always emotions,” before he added “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.”
Serbian striker Mitrovic, on the other hand, asked, “If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?”
The duo’s celebration became a topic of political discussion with several players and coaches having been asked about their comments on the celebration.
Furthermore, when asked about the celebration, the Serbian Boss Mladen Krstajic 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.”