The leaders of Kosovo and Albania have said they are collecting money to pay the fines imposed on Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner and Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri after they celebrated against Serbia with double-eagle gestures referring to Albania’s national symbol. Serbia have never recognized Kosovo’s declaration of independence despite its recognition by 116 other countries.
A statement from FIFA on Monday said Xhaka and Shaqiri had been fined 10,000 Swiss francs (around €8670) each and Lichtsteiner 5,000 Swiss francs (€4,335), with all three also given warnings, having “infringed the FIFA disciplinary code for unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play.”
In response the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said yesterday on RTK Live that he had opened a bank account to enable his fellow countrymen to help pay the fines, which he called “absurd.”
The account named “Don’t be afraid of the eagle” is a “gesture of gratitude to the two sportsmen,” he said on Facebook.
Kosovo also opened an online fund and only hours afterward had collected nearly $23,000, officials said.
The Kosovar Commerce and Industry Minister Bajram Hasani said he had donated the amount of his monthly salary — about 1,500 euros.
“They were punished only because they did not forget their roots, they did not forget where they came from,” Hasani said. “Money cannot buy the joy that Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri brought us by celebrating with the eagle sign,” he said.
This controversy simply won’t go away, and FIFA have only added fuel to the fire by giving the players fines. I’ll just leave that there shall I?