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14:30, 23 June 2018

&#039Double eagle&#039 celebration provokes Serbs

&#039Double eagle&#039 celebration provokes Serbs

Serbia has hit out at a “provocative” double eagle celebration by two ethnic Albanian goalscorers in the Globe Cup.

Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri scored for Switzerland who beat Serbia 2-1.

Their gesture is an nationalist symbol representing the double headed eagle on Albania’s national flag. Critics say it could inflame tensions amongst Serbian nationalists and ethnic Albanians.

Albanian leaders applauded the pair. A pro-government Serbian newspaper stated they had “humiliated” Switzerland.

The celebration has brought political tensions in the Balkans on to the Planet Cup stage.

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BBC Monitoring reports that in Serbia, pro-government newspaper Informer utilized a derogatory term for Albanians, saying “the Albanian clan inside ‘clockmakers’ group was sending poisoned arrows weeks before, so the match couldn’t pass with out a provocation”.

Some Swiss papers also named the gesture a provocation betraying a lack of political sensitivity.

Both players had earlier been booed by Serbian fans in the course of the match.

Shaqiri later sought to downplay his celebration, saying: “It’s just emotion. I am really satisfied to score this objective. It really is not more. I consider we never have to speak about this now.”

Xhaka and Shaqiri’s households are from Kosovo, exactly where a Serbian crackdown on the Albanian population only ended with Nato military intervention in 1999.

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Xhaka’s father spent 3-and-a-half years as a political prisoner in Yugoslavia for his help for Kosovan independence. Shaqiri was born in Kosovo and his household fled to Switzerland as refugees.

Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority declared independence in 2008 but Serbia, its ally Russia and most ethnic Serbs inside Kosovo do not recognise it.

There had currently been some tension between the Serbian and ethnic Albanian Swiss players prior to the game.

Shaqiri wears boots displaying the Swiss flag on 1 heel and the Kosovan flag on the other – but Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic 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 Switzerland attacker was then roundly booed by Serbs when his name was announced.

Afterwards the Swiss manager Vladimir Petkovic – born in Bosnia – mentioned: “You need to by no means mix football and politics.” Serbian manager Mladen Krstajic – also from Bosnia – refused to comment.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci stated he was “proud” of the players, adding: “Kosovo loves you”.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama shared the picture on his Facebook web page:

Most Serbian media mentioned the aim celebration was a provocation, but not all took a tone of outrage.

  • Common news portal B92 mentioned the match had been created “politically tense”
  • Broadly study Blic mentioned of Shaqiri: “He 1st made us mourn and then explained soon after the match in Serbian language why he provoked”
  • stated: “Brutal provocation: Xhaka displays the Albanian eagle right after scoring and infuriates all Serbs”

Even so Vecernje Novosti, Politika and state broadcaster RTS focused rather on a complaint by the Serbian football association over the referee’s failure to award a penalty when Mitrovic was apparently wrestled to the ground by two Swiss players.

The Serbian football association is also complaining about Shaqiri’s boots, the aim celebrations and Albanian flags in the stands, they reported.

It is not the first time that football has offered a flashpoint for the lengthy and bitter rivalry among Serbia and Albania.

In 2014 a match amongst the Balkan nations was abandoned soon after a drone carrying an Albanian flag sparked a brawl. Ordinary Albanian fans had been banned from attending the game.

Published at Sat, 23 Jun 2018 ten:02:42 +0000

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