The complexity of political loyalties on the soccer field

Soccer World Cups have long been giant arenas for flag-waving and nationalist displays. These days, however, the geopolitics bubbling just below the surface has become more complex, and nationalism can be seen decoupling from flags.

On Monday, Fifa, soccer's global governing body, fined two Swiss players, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, 10,000 Swiss francs (S$13,800) each for making a political gesture after scoring goals in a game Switzerland won 2-1 against Serbia last Friday. The players had crossed their hands and spread their fingers to depict the double-headed eagle of Skanderbeg, which adorns the flag of Albania and the presidential standard of Kosovo.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2018, with the headline 'The complexity of political loyalties on the soccer field'. Print Edition | Subscribe