Switzerland players Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Stephan Lichtsteiner escaped bans Monday for celebrating goals with a pro-Kosovo double eagle gesture in their World Cup win over Serbia.
Fifa rules prohibit political symbols in stadiums and the three players could have been banned. In a statement released on Fifa’s official website, world football’s governing body decided to fine the players instead.
The statement read, “The Swiss players Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Stephan Lichtsteiner have been sanctioned with fines of CHF 10,000, CHF 10,000 and CHF 5,000 respectively and warnings for having infringed art. 57 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code for unsporting behavior contrary to the principles of fair-play during their goal(s) celebrations at the match Switzerland vs. Serbia.
The Football Association of Serbia has been sanctioned for the violation of arts. 67 pars. 2 and 3 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code with a fine of CHF 54,000 and a warning for the display of discriminatory banners and messages by Serbian supporters as well as for throwing objects during the match Switzerland vs. Serbia.
In relation to the same match, the President of the Football Association of Serbia, Mr Slavisa Kokeza as well as the national coach Mr Mladen Krstajic were found guilty for infringing art. 57 of the Fifa Disciplinary Code for their unsporting behavior due to statements made in the aftermath of the said match and were therefore sanctioned with fines of CHF 5,000 and a warning each.”
Arsenal midfielder Xhaka and Stoke City’s Shaqiri trace their roots to Kosovo, a former province of Serbia where thousands were killed and tens of thousands more chased from their homes during a 1998-1999 conflict between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian guerillas.
The double eagle symbol represents the Albanian flag and is viewed as a symbol of defiance in Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008 in a move that Serbia still refuses to recognise.
The players’ celebrations in the 2-1 win over Serbia on Friday caused outrage in Serbia. Switzerland and Serbia can both still qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup. The Swiss face Costa Rica on Wednesday, when Serbia play Brazil.
(With inputs from AFP)