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Albania PM and fans raise money for Swiss players' FIFA fine

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Albania PM and fans raise money for Swiss players' FIFA fine

Albania PM and fans raise money for Swiss players' FIFA fine
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The prime minister of Albania, Edi Rama, has opened a bank account to raise 10,000 francs for a FIFA fine against Albanian-Swiss players Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri over their eagle salutes during a World Cup goal celebration.

Switzerland's team captain Stephan Lichtsteiner, who is not Albanian, was also fined CHF 5,000 for the gesture.

After a 2-1 victory against Serbia, the players threw up their hands in what appeared to be an eagle. The eagle is displayed on Albania's national flag.

FIFA cleared the trio of provoking the Kaliningrad crowd, which would have banned them from their next two matches.

Rama called the fine "absurd" and thanked the players for bringing “sporting joy to millions of Albanians” in his post.

FIFA strictly prohibits any reference to politics on the field.

Rama wasn't the only one raising money for the players. One New York-based Kosovar fan started a Gofundme page that has raised well over the $25,000 goal.

The Serbian Football Association was outraged over the Swiss players' gesture, with the federation's head, Slavisa Kokeza, criticising the acts as "scandalous and shameful.”

Xhaka and Shaqiri are also of Kosovar heritage, further stoking tensions.

Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after the end of the Kosovo War. An overwhelming majority of UN member states recognised Kosovo as a sovereign state. Serbia and Russia, however, found the move illegal.