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UCL: Shaqiri Out Of Liverpool Trip To Red Star Belgrade Over Political Reasons In Serbia

UCL: Shaqiri Out Of Liverpool Trip To Red Star Belgrade Over Political Reasons In Serbia

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has deliberately excluded Switzerland international, Xherdan Shaqiri, from The Reds’ squad to face Serbian side Red Star Belgrade (FK Crvena Zvezda) in their Tuesday’s Champions League Group C clash at the Rajko Mitic Stadium in Belgrade, and he explains that the decision was taken to save the club a possible distraction as a result of political tension in the region – the player’s land of birth.

Shaqiri, 26, was born in Kosovo, an ethnically Albanian province that fought a war of independence against Serbian-dominated Yugoslav forces in the late 1990s. The Serbian government refuses to recognise Kosovo’s independence.

Shaqiri made headlines during the 2018 World Cup in Russia after celebrating his winner for Switzerland against Serbia by crossing his hands to imitate an eagle, which appears on Albania’s flag.

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Shaqiri’s goal celebration for Switzerland against Serbia has made him a villain in Belgrade

“It’s a situation where we will go to the fantastic city of Belgrade as a football team to play football,” Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.

“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, 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. Shaqiri 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.”

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