Swiss trio escape bans for pro-Kosovo symbol

Swiss trio Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Stephan Lichtsteiner have escaped punishment after a FIFA probe into their celebrations against Serbia.

Xhaka and Shaqiri, who both have ethnic Albanian-Kosovan heritage, made the double-headed eagle signals similar to the symbol that appears on the Albanian flag after netting goals in Switzerland’s 2-1 win over Serbia in Group E on Friday.

Switzerland captain Lichtsteiner was also caught making the gesture by TV cameras during the match in Kaliningrad.

The actions of the players caused outrage in Serbia.

Kosovo is a former province of Serbia, but declared independence in 2008, a move that Serbia refuses to recognise.

Xhaka and Shaqiri were both fined 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,633) for unsporting behaviour and received a warning from FIFA, while Lichtsteiner was fined 5,000 Swiss francs (£3,816).

Political messages or symbols are against FIFA rules and the trio could have been banned for up to two games if they had been found guilty of breaching the rules.

The fines were “for unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play”, according to FIFA.

Asked about his celebration following the game, Stoke midfielder Shaqiri said it was just emotion taking over.

“I don’t want to speak about this,” said Shaqiri. “In football, you have always emotions.

“You can see what I did, and it’s just emotion, and I’m just happy to have scored the goal. I did it, but we don’t have to speak about this.”