9:00 p.m., December 01, 2022modified to
9:18 p.m., December 01, 2022
This Friday, Serbia and Switzerland face each other for their third and last group match in this World Cup 2022. A meeting of importance both from a sporting point of view but also from a geopolitical point of view. During the 2018 World Cup, the delicate question of Kosovo was invited to the heart of this same poster.
This is not the most flashy poster of this 2022 World Cup. It will even take on the appearance of deja-vu since Serbs and Swiss had already crossed swords during the previous edition, in 2018. And yet, the confrontation of Friday between these two selections, which will take place at the atypical Stadium 974, goes beyond the simple sporting framework and will take on a geopolitical aspect.
To take the measure of it, we must precisely go back to this famous opposition of June 2018 in Kaliningrad in Russia. That evening, Switzerland won by the wire against the Serbs (1-2) and won a crucial success in the race for the round of 16 of the World Cup. But beyond the sporting result, it is worth observing the celebration of the Swiss goals, scored by Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, two executives of the Swiss selection, even today. The two players then mimed the double-headed eagle represented on the Albanian flag, thus giving a nod to the country from which they originate.
Xherdan Shaqiri (born in Kosovo) and Granit Xhaka (born in Switzerland from a Kosovar family) celebrated their goals against Serbia by mimicking an eagle, a pro-Albanian gesture. pic.twitter.com/cBvPfqVVXo
– News Foot (@ActuFoot_) June 22, 2018
The thorny question of Kosovo
However, it is difficult not to see it as a provocative gesture towards the Serbs, whose resentment towards the Albanian population is patent to say the least. A disenchantment linked to the thorny question of Kosovo, this state independent of Serbia since 2008, populated mainly by Albanians, but claimed by Belgrade for historical reasons. Proof of the tensions that exist between the two parties, the former president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, had sent warm congratulations to the Swiss selection four years ago and their success was accompanied by a concert of horns in the streets. from Pristina, the Kosovo capital.
— Hashim Thaci (@HashimThaciRKS) June 22, 2018
A major sporting challenge
The Serbian camp has obviously forgotten nothing of this painful evening. He also launched the first hostilities a few minutes before his entry into the running against Brazil last week (2-0 defeat) by publishing a photo of the locker room where a flag of Serbia was hung, integrating the territory of Kosovo. And on which appeared the message: “There will be no surrender”. Fifa has also opened disciplinary proceedings against the Serbian Football Federation.
Something to spice up Friday night’s clash a little more, especially since the sporting stakes will be high for Dragan Stojkovic’s men. In case of success against the Swiss, their qualification in the round of 16 would be almost recorded. Only a surprising victory for Cameroon against Brazil could then deprive them of the precious sesame that they had not managed to win in 2018.