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Granit Xhaka's 'Provocative' Celebration Certainly Divided Viewers

Granit Xhaka's 'Provocative' Celebration Certainly Divided Viewers
By Arthur James O'Dea
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In the build up to tonight's Group E tie between Serbia and Switzerland, much was made of Xherdan Shaqiri's boots. Bearing both the Swiss and Kosovan flag, it is a reflection of Shaqiri's dual-identity; "I was born in Kosovo, but I grew up in Switzerland. I live both mentalities, it's not a big difference."

However, according to a report in The Times, such a decision on Shaqiri's behalf is construed "as inflammatory in Serbia." Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, yet, it has yet to be recognised by Serbia itself.

Lending this tie an unexpected political dimension, this is further confounded when one considers the make-up of the Swiss team beyond Shaqiri alone. Of their 23-players at the World Cup, 15 are eligible to play for another country. In their game against Serbia tonight, one of those 15 scored a crucial equalising goal; Granit Xhaka.

A stunning strike from the edge of the box, Xhaka's subsequent celebration has struck many as potentially provocative.


Born in Switzerland to Albanian parents, Xhaka was construed to have made a two-headed eagle with his hands whilst celebrating the goal; the symbol on the Albanian flag.

Celebrated and condemned in equal measure, Xhaka's celebration had direct connotations for Switzerland's opponents also.

As reported by The Times; "Despite their silence, this game undoubtedly carries extra meaning. How could it not when the father of Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka spent three and a half years in jail for taking part in demonstrations against the communist government in Belgrade during the Eighties?"

As Switzerland proceeded to score a winner through none other than Shaqiri, sure enough, the celebration was the same.

Advocates of Kosovo's right to independence (among other things), the celebration will undoubtedly be a source of some discussion in the weeks to come.

See Also: Analysts Collide Over Southgate's 'Naive' Response To Leaked Teamsheet

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