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23rd Jun 2018

Granit Xhaka ‘deletes’ Instagram post following celebration against Serbia

Simon Lloyd

Granit Xhaka appears to have deleted a post shared on his Instagram Stories following his goal against Serbia on Friday night

The Arsenal midfielder drew Switzerland level after they had fallen behind to an early Aleksandar Mitrovic goal in Kaliningrad. Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri later scored a stoppage time winner to send the Swiss second in Group E, behind Brazil.

Both scorers grew up in Switzerland but are of ethnic Albanian origin. They marked their goals by making a hand gesture which looked like the double-headed eagle seen on the Albanian flag.

Shaqiri was born in Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia are one of several nations who refuse to acknowledge it as an independent state with relations between the two countries remaining tense.

Xhaka’s parents also originate from Kosovo and his father was imprisoned for over three years in the former Yugoslavia for campaigning for its independence.

After the game Xhaka made two posts to his Instagram Stories, the first of which declaring his name as ‘Granit Kosova’. Another post followed, featuring images of he and Shaqiri doing their celebrations. Tagging the Stoke City player, he also added the message ‘We did it bro’.

Although the second post remains visible on his account, the first has disappeared, prompting some to speculate Xhaka has deleted it.

Fifa rules state that players will be punished for making political statements in celebrations, perhaps explaining why Xhaka might have decided to delete the post – which certainly explained the meaning behind his celebration.

Shaqiri wore boots in the game which featured both the Swiss and Kosovan flags. Prior to the game, this prompted Mitrovic to question why he opted not to play for the country.

“If he loves Kosovo so much and decides to flaunt the flag, why did he refuse a chance to play for their team?” he asked.