In a recent match that took place in Group E of the World Cup, Serbia played Switzerland in Matchday 2 of 3 in the group stage. A dramatic contest, the Serbians scored first but were unable to preserve their lead, conceding 2 unanswered goals to the Swiss – goals supplied in the second half by current Premier League players Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri. Despite the moment of sheer happiness, scoring for their country, the Swiss footballers performed a more meaningful and controversial action that took place when the ball had past the opponents’ goal line, running across the pitch to cheer with their fans. Not 1, not 2, but 3, of the Swiss footballers were caught performing a gesture of what looked like for many, to be an “X”, or the recent “Wakanda Forever” salute from the film Black Panther. However, this motion was actually a nationalist symbol, representing the double headed eagle on the Albanian national flag.
Kosovo is a partially recognized state bordered by Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. There have been many conflicts and wars involving the nation, such as “The Battle of Kosovo” in 1389, “The Balkan Wars” in 1912, and “The Kosovo War” in 1998, but how FIFA and football fits into this category is all related to the footballers and their families and the state individually, that currently consists of a mix of several Bosnian, Albanian, Serbian, and Turkish individuals.
On February 18thof 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, with 113 UN member states unanimously supporting and recognizing the action. They became known as the “Republic of Kosovo”, or “Republika e Kosovës (Albanian) / Republika Kosovo (Serbian) and this is where several issues have surfaced, due to current players families being forced out of the state during the time conflict occurring in the 1900’s between Serbian and Albanian fighters. Thousands were killed in an extraordinary evil and with Kosovo having a majority of Albanians in the region, this is why the celebration was performed by Swiss players Xhaka, Shaqiri, and Lichtsteiner.
Football Federation of Kosovo
Until a couple of years ago in 2016, most players of Kosovan descent did not play for the Republic of Kosovo. UEFA (The Union of European Football Associations) and FIFA (The Fédération Internationale de Football Association) denied the states membership to play within either association, due to their dubious recognition as a liberated state, furthermore opposing each professional footballers’ values and wants.
To this day, many players have joined other nations that they may have been displaced to, or were born in. Past, present, and future, this has been, and continues to be, an ongoing issue that FIFA continues to monitor.
Over the course of the next 3 days, I will analyze what that team of Kosovo could actually look like today, with the addition of six well-known international players that have a Kosovan descent. They currently play on the national sides of Belgium, Albania, and Switzerland respectively, and each day (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) I will be covering a nation.
Be sure to stay tuned!