Xhaka and Shaqiri goal celebrations bring Balkan politics to World Cup

Nemanja Matic Serbia 22062018

Nemanja Matic Serbia 22062018

On Saturday, Fifa confirmed its disciplinary committee had opened proceedings against Xhaka and Shaqiri, adding: "In relation to the same match, disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Serbian FA for crowd disturbance and the display of political and offensive messages by Serbian fans".

Despite being under pressure following a 1-1 draw against Brazil in their first match of the tournament, the Switzerland team did not lose calm till the last minute in their must win second game.

They marked their goals by making a hand gesture which looked like the double-headed eagle seen on the Albanian flag.

Xhaka and Shaqiri both have Albanian-Kosovan roots and there are bitter feelings that remain in the region between Serbs and Kosovans following the bloody Kosovo war that ended in 1999.

The families of both goal scorers hail from Kosovo, the former Serb province whose 2008 declaration of independence is not recognized by Serbia and remains a source of friction between the Balkan neighbors.

A preliminary investigation was opened against Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic for alleged statements made post-match.

The game was always expected to have political overtones with at least five players in this Swiss starting line-up of Albanian/Kosovan-origin.

"I am happy to score this goal".

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But it was Stoke City winger Shaqiri who struck the decisive blow, breaking through Serbia's offside trap to slot home calmly as the 90 minutes wound down.

Serbia were furious when German referee Felix Brych failed to award a penalty in the 66th minute after Mitrovic was wrestled to the ground in the penalty area by Swiss defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schaer.

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. "It was an interesting match to say the least". His brother plays for Albania's national team.

"We lost our bearings a little in the first half but we bounced back", said Petkovic.

Translated, the post reads: "Hey Serbia I destroyed your net, because my name is Granit Kosova".

In the 30th minute, there was a great opportunity for Switzerland in the box but it was ultimately denied by Vladimir Stojkovic, who kept out Seferovic's attempt. "Then they could put him on trial, like they did to us".

"It was a wonderful atmosphere and that's what support should be about".

Serbia must beat Brazil in their final game to qualify without relying on the result of the Swiss game against Costa Rica, who are eliminated after losing their first two games.

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