Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka both celebrated by making a nationalist symbol to their Albanian heritage in Switzerland’s 2-1 victory over Serbia on Friday at the World Cup.
After scoring in the win, both players put their open hands together with their thumbs locked and fingers outstretched to make what looks like the double-headed eagle displayed on Albania’s national flag.
Shaqiri was born in Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, while Xhaka’s parents are originally from Kosovo and they are of Albanian heritage.
Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence and relations between the two countries remain tense, though Serbian players did not react to the eagle gestures.
Stoke midfielder Shaqiri was asked about the celebration after the game, and put it down to pure emotion in the moment.
“I think about this, I don’t want to speak,” said Shaqiri, who also took off his shirt after scoring. “In football, you have always emotions.
“You can see what I did, and it’s just emotion, and I’m just happy to have scored the goal. I did it, and we don’t have to speak about this.”
Serbian coach Mladen Krstajic refused to talk about the celebrations after the game.
“I don’t have any comments,” Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic said. “I don’t deal with these things. I am a man of sports, and this is what I’m going to stay being.”
In the tournament’s first come-from-behind victory, Xhaka made it 1-1 in the 52nd minute with a powerful shot through a crowded penalty area, before Shaqiri added the other in the 90th minute after running clear of the Serbian defence.
“You should never mix politics and football,” Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said. “You should always show respect. It’s a wonderful atmosphere and a positive experience and that’s what football should be about.”