Xherdan Shaqiri left out of Liverpool squad travelling to Serbia to "avoid any distractions" 4 years ago

Xherdan Shaqiri left out of Liverpool squad travelling to Serbia to "avoid any distractions"

Liverpool released a statement on the matter on Monday.

Xherdan Shaqiri has proved an extremely worthwhile signing for Liverpool since he came from Stoke this summer, but it has been announced that he will not travel to Serbia for their Champions League against Red Star Belgrade.


He has been left out of the squad due to the reaction it is feared he may receive in Belgrade on Tuesday night.

During the summer, Shaqiri, an ethnic Albanian of Kosovar heritage, scored the winning goal for Switzerland against Serbia in a massive World Cup game and celebrated passionately by putting his hands together to form a double-headed eagle, similar to the one on the Albanian flag.

He received a fine of £7,600 for doing so, as it risked inflaming tensions in the Balkans, especially among Serbians, who do not recognise Kosovo's independence.

The tensions date back to the Balkan War, where Serbian forces initiated a conflict against ethnic minorities across Yugoslavia; Shaqiri himself was born in Kosovo.


Explaining Shaqiri’s non-inclusion in the squad, Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: “It’s a situation where we will go to the fantastic city of Belgrade as a football team to play football.

“We have heard and read the speculation and talk about what kind of reception Shaq would receive and although we have no idea what would happen, we want to go there and be focused 100 per cent on football and not have to think about anything else, that’s all.

“We are Liverpool FC, a big club, a football team but we don’t have any message further than that. We have no political message, absolutely not. We want the focus to be on a great game of football, free from anything else.

“We are keen to be respectful and keen to avoid any distractions that would take focus away from a 90-minute-plus contest that is important for football and only football. So for that reason, Shaq is not involved and he accepts and understands this. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a lot of times, but not on Tuesday.


“I have heard so many wonderful things about the city of Belgrade, and the country of Serbia as a whole, from friends and colleagues who’ve visited before, so now I’m really looking forward to taking Liverpool there for a great game of Champions League football.”