Swiss FA slams ‘political propaganda’ as ex-Liverpool star Shaqiri is ‘draped with jacket in support of Kosovo’ during interview
The Swiss and Serbian football associations have called for sanctions after Xherdan Shaqiri was draped with a jacket supporting Kosovan independence during an interview after a World Cup qualifier.
The former Liverpool and Bayern Munich man was conducting an interview following Switzerland's 2-0 win against Northern Ireland in Geneva on Saturday when he was approached by a unnamed man who placed the jacket bearing emblems of the UCK, or Kosovan Liberation Army – a militia that has fought for independence from Serbia.
Shaqiri quickly removed the jacket and placed it out of sight of the camera before continuing with his interview.
However, the incident has generated significant controversy in Serbia, with newspaper Kurir referring to the incident as "scandalous" and calling on European football bosses at UEFA to act.
Un imbécile a fait mettre à Shaqiri une veste avec le blason de l'UCK (🤮), qui l'a retiré par réflexe.Cette organisation a été accusée par divers rapports d'épuration ethnique organisée envers les serbes et divers trafics. pic.twitter.com/T7ajwgU6DE— Боки (@stnj_boki) October 10, 2021
A subsequent statement from the Swiss FA noted that it is "unacceptable that people want to use football stadia – and in this case a player's interview after a match – for political propaganda purposes.
"Xherdan Shaqiri reacted in an exemplary manner, stayed calm and did not react," it added.
"The man was questioned by police and an immediate stadium ban was imposed on him."
Serbian football representatives also reacted angrily to the incident and called for Shaqiri to be punished for what they see as his endorsement of a terrorist organization.
"We are preparing a letter to FIFA," said Jovan Surbatovic, the Secretary General of the Football Union of Serbia.Also on rt.com 'We're sorry': Xhaka & Shaqiri offer 'apologies' for World Cup eagle celebration versus Serbia
"We demand an immediate response and the strictest sanctions against Shaqiri for promoting a criminal terrorist organization.
"The Football Federation of Serbia will use all legal mechanisms to remove those responsible for these events from football."
Shaqiri hails from the city of Gjilan, a region considered by some as being part of the modern Republic of Kosovo but whose independence isn't recognized by Serbia, along with several other countries.
The 30-year-old has previously landed in hot water for political statements. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Shaqiri and Switzerland teammate Granit Xhaka were both fined after celebrating a goal by making a doubled-headed eagle gesture.
They pair were punished after football chiefs determined that the celebration, which was said to be a reference to the design of the Albania flag, constituted "unsporting behavior".Also on rt.com ‘No malice intended’: Women’s football star says she got ‘all sorts of abuse’ after horror red-card tackle on rival (VIDEO)