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FOOTBALL

Swiss players avoid World Cup ban for ‘double eagle’ celebrations

Switzerland players Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Stephan Lichtsteiner escaped bans on Monday for celebrating goals with a pro-Kosovo double eagle gesture in their World Cup win over Serbia.

Swiss players avoid World Cup ban for 'double eagle' celebrations
Photo: AFP

Fifa said Xhaka and Shaqiri would each be fined 10,000 Swiss francs (€8,700, $10,000) and Lichtsteiner 5,000 Swiss francs.

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.

Read also: Swiss players stir up controversy with 'double eagle' goal celebrations

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.

Fifa rules prohibit political symbols in stadiums and the three playfiers could have been banned.

But Fifa said it was imposing the fines “for unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play”.

Serbian Football Association president Slavisa Kokeza and Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic were each fined 5,000 Swiss francs for comments they made after the match.

Krstajic told Serbian journalists that German referee Felix Brych should be tried for war crimes in The Hague for failing to award his team a penalty.

The Serbian FA was also fined 54,000 Swiss francs for the behaviour of fans during the game – they displayed discriminatory banners and messages and threw objects.

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.

 

FOOTBALL

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame

A Swiss super fan who has shot to fame after images of him watching Switzerland’s win over France went viral told the media he was unaware of his viral fame - but that he was overwhelmed with the world’s attention.

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame
Image: Twitter.

Like most Swiss football fans, Luca Loutenbach’s Monday evening – highlighted by a surprise upset win over the current World Champions and tournament favourite France – went about as well as you could have expected. 

But while his side were putting on the pressure through late goals to push the game into extra time, Loutenbach’s image was being shared across the world. 

Two pictures of Loutenbach, juxtaposed from before and after Switzerland scored an equaliser in the 90th minute to send the game to extra time, were widely shared. 

The images were even shared by Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, who congratulated Switzerland and said the images summed up the beauty of football. 

On Tuesday, Loutenbach spoke with Swiss tabloid Blick to tell the story. He said he had no idea about the images as his phone had no reception in Romania – and only found out after the game. 

“I didn’t have a network during the game. But some fans around me were connected to the internet and quickly realized what was happening. What an incredible buzz!” said the man from the canton of Jura. 

While Switzerland have made it further than they have in their history in the tournament, Loutenbach is far from a bandwagon fan. He told Blick he’s seen around 50 national team games before. 

“It’s the most beautiful day in the history of Swiss football, let’s not be afraid of saying it. It is the accomplishment of the immense work of the ASF (Federation), of (coach) Petkovic and of the whole team” he said. 

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