Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka stirred controversy last night as they both made nationalist symbols of their Albanian heritage during their 2-1 victory against Serbia in Kaliningrad.
After scoring, both players put their open hands together and interlocked their thumbs to display the double-headed eagle figure that can be found on the national flag of Albania.
Their opponents Serbia have not politically acknowledged Kosovo leaving Serbia as a former region of the country. Despite this, Serbian players did not respond to the celebrations despite the tense relationship between the two countries.
Sky Sports revealed that both players are from Kosovo, as the former Serbian providence declared independence in 2008, they both chose to play for Switzerland, but they are of Albanian heritage.
After the game, Xherdan Shaqiri told Sky Sports that his celebration was pure emotion, and nothing else.
“I think about this, I don’t want to speak,” he said, “in football, you always have emotions.
“You can see what I did, and its just emotion, and I’m happy just to have scored the goal. I did it, and we don’t have to speak about this.”
However, Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic stated that any political matter should be kept arms-length of football.
“You should never mix politics and football,” he said, “you should always show respect. It’s a wonderful atmosphere and a positive experience and that’s what football should be about."
Serbia’s coach Mladen Krstajic refused to comment on the incident.