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What did Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka’s goal celebrations actually mean?

The pair are in hot water after their nationalist symbols caused a lot of extra tension in Switzerland's clash with Serbia

Everyone’s talking about the heroics of Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka after Friday’s World Cup clash between Switzerland and Serbia.

The pair helped the Swiss come from one goal down to beat their Group E rivals 2-1, with Xhaka netting a lovely long-range strike just after half-time, while Shaqiri ran from the half-way line to slot home the late winner.

With that, Switzerland are more-or-less through to the last 16 of the World Cup. 

Big moment

Reuters
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Big moment

But instead of discussing the quality of the game, everyone’s been talking about the controversial and politically motivated hand-symbols the pair made during their goal celebrations.

Apparently, it’s upset a few people and could land them both in hot water.

So, what’s it all about?

EPA
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EPA
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You might already know that there’s a few players in Switzerland’s national team with Albanian roots, including Shaqiri, Xhaka and former Watford star Valon Behrami.

In fact, Shaqiri was born in Kosovo – the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008 – to Kosovar-Albanian parents, but grew up in Switzerland.

Xhaka also has Albanian parents, but was born in Basel.

However, his father was once imprisoned by the Yugoslavian government for campaigning for Kosovo independence.

Last 16-bound

AP:Associated Press
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Last 16-bound

There’s plenty of tension between Kosovo’s Albanian and Serbian communities – with Serbia refusing to recognise Kosovo’s new-found independence.

But Shaqiri and Xhaka are openly proud of their Albanian heritage, with the Stoke winger even going as far as sporting the Kosovo flag on his right boot in last night’s match.

It added a little extra spice to the game, we’ll tell you that.

The offending articles

AP:Associated Press
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The offending articles

Naturally then, both players scored and each displayed a Albanian nationalist symbol in their goal-celebations.

Apparently, the thumbs represent the heads of two eagles while the fingers represent feathers, in homage to Albania’s national flag.

As you’d probably expect, the pair could face punishment from FIFA if their celebrations are deemed to be displays of political symbols.

Speaking after the match, Shaqiri said the celebration was simply down to emotion, saying: “I think in football you have always emotions.

“You can see what I did and I think it’s just emotion. I’m very happy to score this goal. It’s not more. I think we don’t have to speak about this now.”