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Swiss football players fined but not suspended for political hand gestures

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By Euronews  with AP
Swiss football players fined but not suspended for political hand gestures
Copyright  REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

FIFA has fined three Swiss players for making hand gestures with political overtones in a World Cup match against Serbia.

Switzerland's Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri each received a 10,000 Swiss Francs (€8,660) fine on Monday, while captain Stephan Lichtsteiner was fined 5,000 Swiss Francs (€4,330). The three players were also issued with warnings but escaped a ban.

Xhaka and Shaqiri formed a double-headed eagle with their hands after scoring second-half goals in their World Cup match against Serbia last Thursday. Lichtsteiner joined in the celebration.

The gestures showed the Albanian national symbol, which Serbs see as a provocation.

Both players have roots in Kosovo, an ethnically Albanian province that fought a war of independence against Serb-dominated Yugoslav forces in the late 1990s. The former Serbian province declared independence in 2008, but Serbia does not recognise that independence.

However, the players did not face a ban from two World Cup matches, which the FIFA judges could have imposed if the actions were found to have provoked the public.

Politics in the beautiful game

Meanwhile, in a separate case and at the same game, Serbia's Football Federation was fined 54,000 Swiss Francs (€46,000) and issued a warning after Serbian fans displayed "discriminatory banners and messages", and threw objects during the match.

FIFA and UEFA, its European counterpart, usually ensure that Serbia and Kosovo are separated when making draws for European competitions.

In a further wave of punishments, Argentina's Football Association was fined 105,000 Swiss Francs (€90,900) after its fans were involved in “fights, throwing objects and homophobic and insulting chants” following their 3-0 defeat by Croatia last Thursday.