– There are shameful photos from Serbia’s dressing room, which show a hateful, xenophobic message and a message of genocide against Kosovo, writes Kosovo Minister of Culture Hajrulla Çeku on Twitter.
He refers to a picture taken in Serbia’s dressing room before the 2-0 loss to Brazil in the World Cup. Çeku is one of many to demand that the International Football Association (FIFA) take action against the Serbian Football Association.
The reason the image arouses resentment is that the flag shows the outline of the lands of Serbia where Kosovo is incorporated as a part of them. Above the red, blue and white card the words “No Surrender” are written.
– It’s a pity that the Serbs still think like that and dream of returning Kosovo by force, says Edvar Celina to NRK.
He is the father of football player Bersant Celina, who came to Norway as a refugee from Kosovo. Today, he represents the national team of his parents’ country of origin.
Now Fifa has opened a case against the Serbian Football Association.
– Fifa’s Disciplinary Committee has opened a case against the Serbian Football Association after a flag was unfurled in the dressing room after the game against Brazil on November 24. The case was opened on the basis of Article 11 of the Fifa disciplinary regulations and Article 4 of the 2022 World Cup regulations, writes Fifa in a press release.
Calling the flag an “aggressive act”
The conflict between the two countries is old and it was only in 2008 that Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. Serbian authorities have declared that they will never recognize Kosovo as an independent republic.
Later in August, the countries’ leaders gathered for a crisis meeting with the EU in Brussels after tensions escalated on the northern border.
– We disagree on almost everything, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said of the talks.
The Football Association of Kosovo and the Olympic Committee of Kosovo filed complaints with Fifa and the IOC respectively after being told about the flag in Serbia’s dressing room.
– It is unacceptable that this action is glossed over, and we demanded that Fifa strictly abide by its rules and punish the Serbian Football Association for this aggressive action which goes against the values of football, says the Association Kosovo Football Association in a statement.
– Such a chauvinistic act has no place in sporting events, concludes the association.
I hope the stars will repeat the party against Serbia
Kosovo became a member of Fifa and UEFA in 2016. The country’s former foreign minister, Petrit Selimi, wonders if Fifa has suddenly stopped mixing football and politics again. He recalls that Fifa has done just that in the past by refusing European countries to use the OneLove armband.
– Kosovo is a full member of Fifa, friends. It’s obscene, Selimi wrote on Twitter.
At the World Cup in 2018, Serbia and Switzerland played each other, the latter with two players of Kosovo Albanian origin in the squad.
Both Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri scored against the Serbs and celebrated by shaping their hands into the “Albanian Eagle”, which is the symbol of the country’s Albanian flag.
The celebration was interpreted as a political gesture against Serbia. On December 2, the nations meet in the last game of the group stage.
– I hope Xhaka or Shaqiri will score and celebrate like before, said dad Celina.
Xhaka and Shaqiri were fined by Fifa the last time they celebrated like this.
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