FIFA has opened disciplinary hearings against Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri for their goal celebrations in Switzerland’s 2-1 comeback victory over Serbia on Friday. Both players, who are ethnic Albanians, ran towards the opposing fans in the stadium and made hand gestures in the form of a double-headed eagle symbolizing the Albanian flag, the country their families both fled to escape persecution from Serbian forces. Now FIFA will determine if what they did constituted punishment that could be in the form of a suspension up to two matches from the World Cup, which would include Switzerland’s round of 16 knockout match.
Disciplinary hearings have also been opened against Serbian coach Mladen Krstajic for making post-match comments that drew comparisons to the match official with Serbian war crimes trials at The Hague.
If Xhaka and Shaqiri are to be punished, it is hoped that it’s only because they didn’t rub it in the Serbian fans’ faces more than what they did. Xhaka and Shaqiri were singled out and booed by fans in this section, some of whom were wearing shirts wearing the photo of Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladić, and were whistled during most touched of theirs leading up to their goals. Violence isn’t the answer, but appropriate responses are, and Xhaka and Shaqiri should be commended for limiting their celebrations at a hand gesture and screaming. It’s up to FIFA now, and while there’s doubt they see it like that, common sense based around an honest and truthful examination of the atmosphere and what the players were reacting to should hopefully prevail in the end.