calls-for-arsenal-star-to-be-stripped-of-captaincy-after-world-cup-exit

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is facing calls to step down as Switzerland captain.

Xhaka, 30, captained his nation at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Swiss made it through their group but were eliminated in the round of 16 after a 6-1 defeat to Portugal.

It was an eventful tournament for Xhaka, who was caused controversy with his behaviour in Switzerland’s 3-2 win over Serbia in the group stage of the competition.

The gesture prompted several Serbian players to run onto the pitch and confront the Arsenal star, who was booked by the referee.

Meanwhile, after full-time, Xhaka was involved in another controversial moment after he was seen wearing a shirt with the name ‘Jashari’ on the back.

Asked afterwards what it meant, Xhaka claimed there was no “political background to it whatsoever” – stating it was for his Switzerland teammate Ardon Jashari.

However, it is also the surname of Adem Jashari – a founder of the Kosovo Liberation Army, a Kosovo Albanian separatist group that fought for independence from the former Yugoslavia.

Xhaka and his Swiss teammate Shaqiri are both of ethnic Albanian heritage linked to Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

It was not the first time Xhaka had been involved in a controversial incident against Serbia.

Both he and Shaqiri were fined by FIFA in 2018 for make an eagle gesture, associated with Albania, after scoring against Serbia at the World Cup in Russia.

‘People fed up with Xhaka’s behaviour’

Swiss journalist Sascha Ruefer says Xhaka’s position as captain has now been called into question.

“Granit Xhaka is a leader. Someone who makes this team better,” Ruefer told Die Welt Woche, as reported by HITC.

“I realize that there is no longer an alternative to Xhaka. No one can hold a candle to him. He is the super figure.

“(But) for me, (the role of a captain) is not at all how Granit Xhaka behaves on the pitch. People are fed up with this behaviour.

“I think (the Swiss FA) should say; ‘Granit, we’ll give the armband to someone else and build a second strong person in the team’.

“This would not be intended as a demotion. It would relieve Xhaka. It would be good for the big picture and for the group.”