Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner will not be banned for making hand gestures of an Albanian national symbol to celebrate World Cup goals against Serbia.This content was published on June 25, 2018 - 18:55
FIFA on Monday fined Shaqiri and Xhaka CHF10,000 ($10,130) each and Switzerland's captain Lichtsteiner CHF5,000 for “unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play”.
The FIFA disciplinary panel had the power to impose two-match bans if the actions of the players in Friday's 2-1 victory over Serbia in Kaliningrad were judged to have provoked the general public.
All three players also received a warning, but were cleared to play in Switzerland's next match, against Costa Rica on Wednesday.
Xhaka and Shaqiri, who two years ago was reportedly earning CHF85,000 a week at Stoke City, are ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and had made a double-eagle gesture, symbolising the Albanian flag, after scoring.
On Sunday, Peter Gilliéron, director of the Swiss Football Association, said in an interview with Swiss public television, SRF, that it was a shame that the political controversy and the investigation was currently detracting from what should be the focus of the World Cup: the sport itself.
The players' gesture refers to tensions persisting in the region since the 1990s Balkans conflict.
The incident prompted parts of the Swiss press to revive old debates and questions about how much Switzerland really is in the Swiss national team.
Sports Minister Guy Parmelin and Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis had defended the players in an interview with the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.
“If you attended the game and experienced the charged atmosphere, you really appreciate the achievement of the Swiss national team and can understand that emotions can run riot with a player,” said Parmelin, who was present in the stadium for the Swiss 2-1 victory.
Also on Monday, the Serbian FA was fined CHF54,000 and warned for a "display of discriminatory banners and messages" by fans, while its president Slavisa Kokeza and national team coach Mladen Krstajic were fined CHF5,000 each and warned for comments they made after the game.
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