Switzerland midfielder Valon Behrami says the World Cup is not an appropriate time or place to discuss the wider issues around the team’s controversial celebrations against Serbia.
Vladimir Petkovic’s side meet Costa Rica in Nizhny Novgorod on Wednesday knowing that a win will be enough to guarantee their place in the last 16.
Much of the pre-match talk has centred on fines issued to Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka by FIFA, after they celebrated goals in the 2-1 victory over Serbia by apparently referencing the Albanian flag.
The ‘eagle’ gestures were viewed as deliberately provocative towards their opponents, particularly since many of Switzerland’s players, including Shaqiri, have family ties to the state of Kosovo that is not officially recognised by the Serbian government.
Behrami, who is one of those players of Kosovan descent, is happy FIFA did not choose to issue suspensions to his team-mates but insists the issue “goes a little bit deeper” than can be talked about during the tournament.
— Xherdan Shaqiri (@XS_11official) June 22, 2018
“We talked maybe the next day, there was some joking around [in the squad],” he told a news conference. “We’re happy nobody is suspended but it’s something that goes a little bit deeper.
“It’s not appropriate to spend the time [talking] now. It won’t happen in the future because it won’t be a special game like this. Maybe it will happen at a club but not at the World Cup. It’s case closed. If you want to talk a lot about this, it’s not the time.”
Head coach Petkovic felt the celebrations were partly influenced by the “emotions” of football but wants his players to focus on keeping their World Cup campaign alive.
“What’s important is we play football together,” he said. “We depend on football and the emotions of football, it’s an emotional game and it has to be.
“What has happened, happens, basically. We have to be aware of these things and learn from them.
“Let us also focus on the remainder of the tournament, on football, a beautiful game that brings together people. We should be happy to be involved in a great festival of sport.”
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