The latest edition of the FIFA World Cup features the maiden face-off between Switzerland and Serbia, which included a scintillating last-minute goal to cap off a Swiss victory. However, Swiss goal scorers Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri drew contention by making a hand sign with both hands resembling the twin-headed eagle of the Albanian flag (both of them are of Albanian heritage). The Serbian football team thought of this as a provocative gesture, and has asked FIFA to consider disciplinary action. Fortunately for them, they escaped a ban and were only fined for “unsporting behaviour”. (Quick history lesson here: tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have been present for centuries, with years of wars in the Balkans driving ethnic Albanians out into neighbouring countries like Switzerland. To date, Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence.) Maybe mixing sports with politics is not a good idea, especially considering the international publicity a popular sport can bring.
Written by Lim Jin Jie