The meaning behind Xhaka and Shaqiri's controversial celebration

Paola Ditto
Giugno 25, 2018

Switzerland's never-say-die attitude and will to win was the key to turning around a match in which they had been pummelled by Serbia for much of the first half, Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said.

In this case, there's little doubt that both players intended the gesture as a statement towards Serbia and the Serbian team.

In the Kosovo capital, Pristina, fans set off flares when the Swiss players scored.

The Kosovo War that ended in 1999, and the territory remains a contentious territory for both Serbia and Albania, declared independence in 2008, and has its own Fifa-recognised team.

Two players of Kosovan descent not only put Switzerland on the brink of the World Cup knockout stages but they struck a blow for the nation the country they were playing still refuses to recognise.

Swiss coach Vladimir Petkovic indicated after the win that he was unimpressed by Shaqiri and Xhaka's celebrations.

Shaqiri then nearly put his side in front as his wonderful left-footed curler, aimed for the top corner, hit the upright.

He said: "It's better not to complain, that's for losers and we don't want to be losers".

With their group destiny in their hands, Switzerland will wrap up group play against already-eliminated Costa Rica in Nizhny Novgorod on Wednesday, while Serbia will face Brazil in Moscow that same day.

"I think in football you have always emotions", he said. "There were several controversial gestures and we all saw what happened with both goals".

Shaqiri makes no secret at his pride for his heritage at the World Cup.

The goal flipped the game on its head and the Swiss could have edged in front minutes later but Shaqiri's curling shot smacked the corner of the post.

Arsenal midfielder Xhaka was born to Albanian parents originally from Serbia. But that left either side vulnerable to a counterattack and that is exactly how Switzerland's victor came.

Such displays have angered some Serbian fans, who often wear T-shirts bearing the map of Kosovo with the Serbian flag on it.

Serbia enjoyed a promising start when Dusan Tadic won the ball near the corn er flag and sent in a cross which was headed in by Mitrovic.

In the 90s there were a number of brutal conflicts as the former Yugoslavia broke up. Bosnia finished third in its qualifying group and didn't make it to Russian Federation. "I have no comment".

However, after a six-month loan spell with Fulham, the striker hit insatiable form towards the tail end of the season - and just in time for the World Cup - as his goals helped the west London club clinch promotion to the Premier League.

Zenica is a town about 70 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Sarajevo, Bosnia's capital.

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