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FIFA World Cup; Shaqiri denies political message in celebratory gesture

Switzerland’s forward Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates winning their Russia 2018 World Cup Group E football match between Serbia and Switzerland at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 22, 2018.

Kaliningrad: Switzerland star Xherdan Shaqiri repeatedly made a gesture that resembled Albanias Eagle after each goal the team scored against Serbia in a Group E clash of the FIFA World Cup at the Kaliningrad Stadium here.

Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, two Switzerland players with Albanian roots, have been captured repeatedly making a specific gesture — crossing their palms on their chest to resemble an eagle from an Albanian flag, reports Sputnik news agency.

While Xhaka was born in Switzerland to Albanian parents, Shaqiri was born in Kosovo — which Serbia consider as their territory — also to Albanian parents.

However, after Friday night’s game, Shaqiri told journalist that there was no political message in his gestures.

“I don’t want to give it much attention. When you score a goal, emotions always take the better of you, so I haven’t put anything special in this gesture,” he told reporters.

“As for our performance at the World Cup, we go on well, one step after another,” he added.

In additon to this, the head of the Serbian football union has expressed outrage over Shaqiri wearing boots with a Kosovar flag during the game.

“Before the game, we asked FIFA to forbid Shaqiri to play in boots with the flag of Kosovo. But the answer was that this is not a political gesture,” the official said.

Switzerland clinched a 2-1 victory against Serbia here on Friday. Serbia had taken an early led before Xhaka found the equaliser shortly after half-time and celebrated with the hand gesture.

Shaqiri scored the final goal in the 90th minute, after which the cameras caught him doing the infamous gesture.

IANS

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