Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri have, thankfully, avoided match suspensions with FIFA ruling that their controversial “double eagle” hand gestures during their respective goals versus Serbia last week did not cross a threshold meriting such a severe punishment, but the pair - along with Swiss defender and new Arsenal signing Stephan Lichtsteiner - have been fined by the world football governing body 10,000 Swiss francs, or $10,129 (Lichtsteiner received a smaller fine, in the amount of 5,000 Swiss francs, or $5,064).
As noted yesterday, Xhaka and Shaqiri are both ethnic Albanians, whose families were persecuted and driven out of their homelands by Serbian forces during the bloody Kosovo War in the 1990’s. During warm-ups, player introductions, and during the match, Xhaka and Shaqiri were booed and whistled by segments of the Serbian fans in attendance - some of which, again, were wearing photos of convicted Bosnian Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic:
Serbian fans wearing convicted war criminal and genocidal maniac Ratko Mladic shirts at the World Cup last night. pic.twitter.com/wTTISgjMWK— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) June 23, 2018
Given the atmosphere and the fact that politics were brought, rudely, to them, it stands to reason that Xhaka and Shaqiri felt the need to remind their tormentors that they’re proud of who they are through the simple act of a goal celebration. And FIFA, somehow, allowed them to continue their World Cup pursuits with Switzerland with only a gentle slap on the wrist.
Also, related: Arsenal fans will probably enjoy having Stephan Lichtsteiner around. If there’s any knowledge and insight to be gained from Switzerland’s first two World Cup matches, it’s that this guy, who is talented on the pitch, mind, might literally be a maniac who will bring an edge to the team that’s sorely been lacking for years. That he jumped right in to help defend his teammates, while also being an incredible pain in the ass to his opponents and officials, speaks volumes to how he’s going to be with Arsenal.
This could get really fun this upcoming season...