Granit Xhaka has apologised for imitating the double-headed eagle of Albania’s flag in the aftermath of his goal in Switzerland 2-1 victory over Serbia at the World Cup and promised not to repeat the celebration.
The midfielder, who is of Albanian descent, was fined, along with teammates Xherdan Shaqiri and Stephan Lichtsteiner, for making the gesture in Russia by FIFA who deemed it politically inflammatory in light of tensions between ethnic Albanians and nationalist Serbs in Kosovo.
It’s expected that Xhaka, 25, will inherit the Swiss captaincy from veteran Lichtsteiner when he retires from international football and it looks as though the apology has been timed to quell questions about his suitability for the role.
Former Swiss goalkeeper Stephane Henchoz, sounding like someone who has far too much time on his hands since retiring from being a fucking cheat, had been generating headlines for some pretty lowbrow comments on the subject of ‘dual-heritage’ players.
“I’m sorry for what happened and I would be stupid if I said I’d do it again,” Xhaka told a press conference ahead of his country’s UEFA Nations Cup match with Iceland. “It will never happen again.
“I have only one passport, the Swiss one, and I wear the red-coloured jersey of Switzerland proudly.
“I will be eternally grateful to [coach, Vladimir] Petkovic for supporting me before the match against Serbia.
“You cannot imagine how I felt before the enormity of insults and hatred of which I had become the object of.”
Xhaka’s fulsome apology came in stark contrast to that of Shaqiri, who in addition to making the same gesture when he scored the winner also sported boots featuring an embroidered Albanian flag.
The attacker, who moved from Stoke to Liverpool this summer, said: “Sure, I apologise if people felt attacked in Switzerland.
“Somewhere, I don’t know, maybe in the mountains, where someone watched the game and it bothered him, I would certainly apologise.”
One suspects Henchoz might have a pad in the mountains.