Granit Xhaka, Mesut Ozil & England

Granit Xhaka

This morning we wake to news that Granit Xhaka could be in line for punishment after his goal celebration against Serbia.

The Swiss international made the sign of the Albanian Eagle when scoring in the World Cup.

For those that do not know, Swiss born Xhaka’s parents fled war-torn Yugoslavia before Xhaka was born. His father was a political prisoner for 3-and-a-half years

Xhaka Sr’s crime had been to take part in demonstrations against the communist central government in Belgrade.

Xherdan Shaqira, born in Kosovo, also made the same sign when he scored his goal.

Reports are that both men face a two match ban for making a “political symbol” but what a load of tosh.

They are proud of their Albanian / Kosovan heritage, and made a hand sign in support of Albania, in support of their parents. If the Albanian Eagle is a political symbol, then so is every national flag.

It is a symbol of their country. Like the English rose or Scottish thistle.

Would it be different if they were playing for Albania? Making the hand sign when they scored? Probably not.

FIFA have to understand that in a multi-cultural game where players often have duel-nationality or duel-loyalties.

Xhaka is a proud Swissman. He is also a proud Albanian.

If they are banned, will FIFA also ban Muslim players who pray after scoring a goal?

Mesut Ozil

So Mesut Ozil was made scapegoat after Germany’s defeat against Mexico and was dropped to the bench for the game against Sweden.

Ozil in Germany is a bit like Raheem Sterling in England.

He gets a lot of negative press, much of it unjustified, just because he is a little different to many of his team mates.

He is often labelled as “Muslim” and “Turkish” and criticised for not being passionate to play for the country.

This is a player who has 91 caps for his country and was their best player at the last World Cup.

Whilst he gets a lot of criticism, Thomas Muller escapes all criticism. It is not hard to work out the difference between the two.

Germany struggled to create in their 2-1 victory over Sweden. The same defensive frailties they showed against Mexico were on display last night. Ozil can not be to blame for Germany being poor defensively.

England

Struggled to get into the World Cup, but the buzz returned when Germany nearly went out yesterday. Add in Argentina’s struggles and it has been a horrendous tournament for the Old Enemies.

I am a proud Englishman. Whether it be cricket, rugby or lawn bowls, I will support England.

However the national football team I have always struggled with. Like many I struggle to cheer on Harry Kane and Dele Alli, or Gary Neville and John Terry. But I will cheer on England.

I was out in Lille when England were in France in 2016. We drank the city dry. It is up there with the best of Arsenal Euro-always.

So at 13:00, I will be in my garden, BBQ on, beer in hand, backing the boys.

C’mon England.

Keenos

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