Granit Xhaka apologised to the people of Switzerland for his double-headed eagle celebration against Serbia in the World Cup but when Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri tried to do the same he ended up insulting them.
The players were part of a press conference that also featured captain Stephan Lichsteiner, Johan Djourou, coach Vladimir Petkovic, and national team delegate, Claudio Sulser.
During the meeting, Xhaka told reporters: “I’m sorry for what happened and I would be stupid if I said I’d do it again.
“I have only one passport, the Swiss one, and I wear the red colours proudly. I will be eternally grateful to Petkovic for supporting me before the match against Serbia. You can not imagine how I felt before, the enormity of insults and hatred of which I had become the object.”
Shaqiri however, tried to do the same thing and, according to Blick, “…stumbles into the next faux pas.“
Apparently, he apologised to the people who watched the game ‘in the mountains’ which seems to be some sort of Swiss equivalent to calling people a ‘hick’.
“Yes, Mr. Shaqiri,” the Blick reporter retorts, “we are a land of mountains. But no, Mr. Shaqiri, not everyone who lives in the mountains is a petty-minded, ever-present and deluded nationalist!”
Although many would like it to just go away, the issue looks set to raise it’s head when Liverpool face Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League. Their general director, Zvezden Terzic believes that Shaqiri will be under ‘unbelievable psychological pressure’ because of his Kosovan-Albania background.
“Personally, I can’t imagine that an Albanian will play for Red Star,” Terzic told Belgrade newspaper Kurir.
“Red Star is a Serbian club, Partizan [Belgrade] was Yugoslav.
“I think that Shaqiri will be under unbelievable psychological pressure because he will know where he is coming; he knows that the Red Star is a symbol of Serbia and playing the Marakana, I don’t know whether he will play.
“Of course, as a soccer club, we treat our rivals equally, and we do not have to deal with the past and the history.
“Red Star must do everything to make Shaqiri feel that he came to play football and it is our duty to protect him in the case of unwanted situations. Let’s be good hosts.”
Arsenal faced Red Star last season but Granit Xhaka did not travel with the squad. He was one of a number of first-team players who did not feature in the Europa League game that Arsenal won 1-0. Others who were missing from the squad included Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, and Aaron Ramsey.
Before the game, few people seemed bothered about Xhaka’s heritage. What a difference 12 months can make in this Trumpy world we now live in…