Switzerland's Controversial Goal Celebrations Explained

Switzerland snatched a 2-1 win against Serbia in the World Cup yesterday - but it's the celebrations that have caused the biggest stir.

No penalty was given when striker Aleksandar Mitrović was clearly manhandled in the box by two Swiss defenders halfway through the second half - but this news has fallen secondary to the celebrations by two Swiss players.

No, this wasn't the biggest controversy of the evening - that came when scorers Granit Xhaka - who equalised with a stunning strike - and Xherdan Shaqiri - who wrapped up the win late on - wheeled away in celebration with the same hand gesture, following Mitrovic's opener.

The celebrations between the pair look like some harmless fun - a gesture which, perhaps, was some sort of inside joke.

Actually the celebration - known as the Albanian Eagle - has political connotations to it.

Football.London has now explained.

Some players in the Swiss squad have a dual nationality and tensions are still surface today between the two nations.


Xhaka and Shaqiri have Kosovar-Albanian heritage and the Stoke City attacker once said: "I was born in Kosovo, but I grew up in Switzerland. I live both mentalities, it's not a big difference."

Xhaka is another with ties to another country.

Credit: The Guardian
Credit: The Guardian

His brother, Taulant Xhaka, actually plays for the Albanian national side, and his father had spent three and half years in prison for protesting against Serbia's communist government, back in the 1980s.

But the state of Kosovo is not recognised as an independent state by Serbia. Back in 2014, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama had a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and things become heated, with Rama claiming that Kosovo's independence was 'undeniable'. This caused a huge stir.

These celebrations won't help matters. It could spark tensions between ethnic Albanians and nationalist Serbs in the state of Kosovar.

FIFA rules state that the pair will face retrospective action for their celebrations.

Jacque Talbot

Jacque Talbot is a journalist and sports writer at SPORTbible. He graduated from Manchester Metropolitan with a BA in English and Film. He is a football, snooker, and basketball enthusiast and has been published in the Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Set Pieces, Planet Football and the Morning Star. He’s the greatest thing to come out of Essex since Nick Frost.

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