Serbia on Saturday lodged a formal complaint about the actions of Xhaka and Shaqiri in marking their goals in Friday’s game with a pointed reference to their Kosovan-Albanian heritage. It is understood the Football Association of Serbia was on Sunday planning to argue that the salute was in some way connected to the concept of Greater Albania, an expansion of Albania’s borders that would involve the annexation of parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and even Greece.
But Kosovo’s ambassador to the UK, Lirim Greicevci, vehemently denying the salute had any “nationalist” undertones. “It’s not a ‘Greater Albania’ flag; it’s an Albanian flag,” he told Telegraph Sport. “The Albanian flag is used by the Albanian national minority in Montenegro, in Serbia, in Macedonia.”
He added: “Just like you in the UK. There’s the Union flag, the St George’s Cross, the Scottish Saltire. I would also argue that this should not be a provocation to the Serbs, because they use the same symbol – a double-headed eagle – if you look at their flag.
“A provocation is that the Serb fans and Russian fans, they chanted anti-Albanian slogans, like, ‘Kill, kill, kill Albanians’ and displayed [war criminal Ratko] Mladic pictures on their tops.”
Greicevci claimed Serbia’s complaint was motivated purely by the fact they lost to goals from two players with Kosovan roots, declaring: “This is bordering on racism.”
He added: “When did it become a crime to express your own identity by celebrating something amazing like scoring at the World Cup?”