Politics rears its head as Klopp leaves out Shaqiri for Serbia trip


Xherdan Shaqiri was playing for Switzerland in the World Cup against Serbia when the incident happened.

After scoring, the Swiss international of Kosovar ethnic Albanian heritage decided to celebrate with a most un-Swiss symbol, by making a double-headed eagle gesture; a gesture which symbolises the Albanian flag.

Shaqiri was born in the former Yugoslavia and was still a child when his family emigrated to Switzerland. FIFA fined him 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,632) for the celebration.

Towards the end of the Balkan War, a vicious Serbian crackdown on the Albanian population in Kosovo only ended only when US President Bill Clinton ordered NATO military intervention in 1999. That bombing ended the Serb’s ilitary campaign to keep Kosovo which is 90% ethnic Albanian but which the Serbs wished to keep it as part of Serbia by force if necessary.

Needless to say the Serbians were less than delighted with Shaqiri’s gesture even though they have largely moved away from the violent imperialism that spawned their wars on Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

With the game in Belgrade looming, Liverpool have left Xherdan Shaqiri out of their squad to face Serbian side Red Star in the Champions League on Tuesday because they want to “avoid any distractions” that his presence may cause.

“We have heard and read the speculation and talk about what kind of reception Shaq would receive and although we have no idea what would happen, we want to go there and be focused 100% on football and not have to think about anything else,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

“We are keen to be respectful and keen to avoid any distractions. So, for that reason, Shaq is not involved and he accepts and understands this.”

Klopp was keen to stress that Liverpool “have no political message”.

Speaking last month about the reception he may receive in Belgrade, Shaqiri had said:

“I had this already at the World Cup so I know I can handle this no problem. It is not about politics, it is about football. I worry about nothing and go to play.”

Liverpool and Klopp clearly feel otherwise but with qualification to the next round looking likely, it may not be  a decision with too many on field repercussions.


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