Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri have been criticised by Swiss media for their ‘flawed’ social awareness after their controversial celebrations carried political undertones in Switzerland’s 2-1 win against Serbia.
Serbia took an early lead through Aleksandar Mitrovic but Xhaka’s well struck shot and Shaqiri’s 90th minute winner sealed Switerland's first win of the World Cup.
Both the goal scorers are ethnic Albanians and of Kosovo heritage, and celebrated with a gesture which appeared to imitate the eagle displayed on the Albania flag.
Ten years after breaking away, Serbia refuses to recognise the independence of its former province Kosovo, where the 1.8 million population are mostly ethnic Albanians.
Shaqiri, Xhaka and Valon Behrami are part of a group of second generation immigrants which have transformed Switzerland’s national football team.
Their celebrations attracted criticism from sections of the country’s media, despite their late heroics.
"Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka have talented feet like no one else in this national team. But their political sensitivity and social awareness let much to be desired," said the Neue Zuercher Zeitung (NZZ).
The tabloid Blick followed with a similar line. "Xhaka and Shaqiri played with real heart but forgot to keep cool heads when they celebrated, and that is the big flaw of this wonderfully stirring evening."
Both players have responded to criticism of their celebrations and deny there were any pre-empted political undertones behind their actions.
“For me it was a really special day,” said Xhaka who supported Kosovo’s campaign for FIFA membership and contemplated representing them before pledging his allegiance to Switzerland.
“This is a victory for my family, for Switzerland, Albania, Kosovo. The gesture was for everyone who has supported me, it was not aimed at our opponents. It was a really emotional game,” the midfielder added.
Shaqiri also denied any political stances and said: “It’s nothing to do with politics, it’s about football.”
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