World Cup 2018: Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri avoid bans after political goal celebrations

Fifa has instead opted to fine Xhaka and Shaqiri 'for unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play during their goal(s) celebrations at the match Switzerland vs. Serbia'

Samuel Lovett
Monday 25 June 2018 17:57
Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri make an Albanian Eagle gesture towards Serbia after scoring for Switzerland

Switzerland’s Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri have been fined CHF 10,000 (£7,632) after their controversial goal celebrations against Serbia were deemed to have breached Fifa regulations. The pair have, however, avoided a two-match ban as initially feared.

An investigation was launched by Fifa after the two Swiss players – both ethnic Albanians from Kosovo – appeared to make a gesture that mirrored the ‘double-headed eagle’ of Albania’s flag.

Tensions remain high between ethnic Albanians and nationalist Serbs in Kosovo. Kosovo’s Albanian-majority political institutions declared independence in 2008 but, a decade on, the territory is still not recognised by Serbia.

Following a short investigation, Fifa has opted to fine Xhaka and Shaqiri “for unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play during their goal(s) celebrations at the match Switzerland vs. Serbia.” Stephen Lichsteiner has also been fined CHF 5,000 (£3,816) having joined in with the celebrations.

According to Fifa’s disciplinary code, Article 54 states that “anyone who provokes the general public during a match will be suspended for two matches and sanctioned with a minimum fine of 5,000 Swiss francs”.

In the wake of Switzerland’s 2-1 victory against Serbia, Shaqiri talked down his celebrations, insisting that “emotion” had got the better of him.

“I can’t discuss the gesture I am afraid. We are footballers not politicians,” he said.

“All I can say is that I scored a goal I am proud of. We can’t discuss anything else. Emotions sometimes take over footballers and there was a lot of emotion out there. To score a goal like that – it is very difficult to keep your emotions under check.”

The Serbia FA was also fined SFr54,000 (£41,217) for the behaviour of their fans during the game – the display of discriminatory banners and the throwing of objects.

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