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Post-World Cup Swiss football admits errors, looks to future

Peter Gillieron

Facing the music: Swiss football federation head Peter Gilliéron on Friday

(Keystone)

Swiss football officials have admitted mistakes were made after a series of controversies surrounding the national team during and after the World Cup in Russia.

Swiss football federation (SFV)external link head Peter Gilliéron told a specially convened news conference near Bern on Friday that he would step down at the end of his term next year and would not stand for re-election. There had been speculation that he might step down earlier.

He confessed that he had made mistakes, and that he took responsibility for these errors. He added that, behind the scenes, his organisation had failed to accompany the progress made on the field.

Meanwhile, coach Vladimir Petkovic clarified that a misunderstanding had led midfielder Valon Behrami to angrily announce his international retirement after becoming the country's first player to take part at four World Cups. Petkovic, whose contract runs until Euro 2020, said he intended to rebuild the team and that "some of the more experienced players might not eventually get a game."

Highs and lows

Switzerland travelled to Russia with a strong team and which, with a large number of second generation immigrants, was seen as an example of integration. They reached the last 16, as hoped, but were then knocked out by Sweden.

But during the competition, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, both ethnic Albanians of Kosovar heritage, celebrated their goals in a group stage 2-1 win over Serbia with a gesture which appeared to imitate the eagle displayed on Albania's flag. They were fined by world football governing body FIFA but escaped bans.

The gesture prompted much debate in Switzerland. After the World Cup, the SFV's general secretary Alex Miescher resigned after controversially suggesting that players with dual citizenship should only be allowed to play if they dropped their second nationality.

Reuters/AP/SDA-ATS

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