In an exciting FIFA World Cup match against Serbia, Switzerland managed to take home all three points. Early on in the game, Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a header, after a cross from Serbia’s attacking midfielder Dusan Tadic.
Switzerland then tried to take the initiative, pressuring Serbia, predominantly through Xhaka and Shaqiri. It was minute 52 when Xhaka scored a spectacular goal from outside the box. And lastly, in what would be one of the final attacks on Serbia’s goal, Xherdan Shaqiri sprinted clear, avoided an offside call, and clipped the ball under Serbia’s goalkeeper.
The stadium erupted, as Switzerland fans celebrated a major victory that could get them through to the next leg of the competition.
Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri celebrated their goals with the “Albanian Eagle,” a provocative gesture aimed at Serbia. Both Xhaka and Shaqiri’s parents are from Kosovo, Talksport notes, so the celebration has patriotic, and political implications. According to the same outlet, Xhaka’s brother, Taulant, plays for Albania, and the players’ father was a political prisoner in the former Yugoslavia before moving to Switzerland.
Shaqiri, too, as The Sun noted, celebrated with the same gesture. Shaqiri was born in Kosovo, and emigrated to Switzerland along with his parents and three sibling in 1992.
The Kosovo conflict, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, first escalated in 1989, when the leader of the ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo initiated a policy of nonviolent protest against Slobodan Milosevic, then-president of the Serbian republic.
Over the years, tensions escalated, with the Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) emerging in 1996. Following further escalations, an informal coalition of the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia demanded the withdrawal of Yugoslav and Serbian forces from Kosovo.
Diplomatic negotiations began in 1999, but were stopped a month later. The conflict ended when NATO intervened with air strikes against Serbian military targets. A lot has changed since. Kosovo has become an independent state, recognized by the United States, as well as the European Union.
The Albanian Eagle, which is prominently featured on the flag of Albania, is, as PRI noted, the country’s national symbol.
As The Guardian noted, Xhaka, Shaqiri, Behrami, and Switzerland’s other Kosovans were taunted and whistled by a crowd where Serbs were supported by the Russians. Chants could be heard throughout the game, “Serbia-Russia” banners decorated the stands, but Xhaka and Shaqiri seemed to have shut the crowd up with their provocative goal celebrations, spicing up the ending of yet another exciting World Cup match.