The two players each crossed their hands into an eagle gesture after finding the net in the World Cup Group E clash against serbia.
Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka both performed ‘double eagle’ hand gestures after scoring for Switzerland against Serbia on Friday, seemingly making a clear political statement.
Both players appeared to evoke the Albanian flag after finding the net in the 2-1 victory for the Swiss that saw Shaqiri slot home a late winner.
The 26-year-old kept his cool in the 90th minute of the crucial World Cup Group E clash to complete Switzerland’s comeback after they had fallen behind early on in the first half.
As he wheeled away in celebration, the Kosovo-born playmaker crossed his hands to imitate an eagle, which appears on Albania’s flag, prompting reporters to ask whether the gesture was a statement in light of Serbia’s failure to recognise his birthplace as an independent state.
“I don’t want to speak about this,” Shaqiri replied. “In football you always have emotions. You can see what I did, I have emotions.
“I am happy to score this goal. We don’t have to speak about this now.”
Granit Xhaka celebrated in a similar way after scoring a brilliant long-range goal, with both players having Albanian heritage. Xhaka’s father was imprisoned for demonstrating against Serbia’s government in the 1980s.
Shaqiri was born in the Kosovan city of Gjilan, but was forced to move to Switzerland with his Kosovar-Albanian parents at just four-years of age. He acquired Swiss citizenship through residency, with the family unable to return to their homeland when war broke out.
Serbia refuses to recognise Kosovo’s independence, despite gaining self-governance in 2008, meaning that tensions remain high in the region The Stoke City player also wore boots featuring both the Swiss and Kosovan flags.
Switzerland captain Stephan Lichtsteiner, meanwhile, came to the defence of Shaqiri and team-mate Xhaka, Lichtsteiner feels that the political backdrop made the game a difficult one for his team-mates. “We have a lot of Albanians, so there is a lot of history between Serbia and Albania. It was a very tough game for them mentally.”
New Arsenal signing Lichtsteiner believes that his team-mates were well within their rights to celebrate the way they did, despite the possibility that Xhaka and Shaqiri could face fines from FIFA for making political statements during the World Cup.
“This is the history for them,” the full-back said. “The war between them was so difficult. I spoke to the father of one of our players who is Albanian, and he told me about this history. This is more than football. This is more than football because they have this period, this war that gave them both big problems