Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Two-Hand Gesture

(L-R) Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Stephan Lichtsteiner 

Three Swiss footballers at the World Cup were penalized for their goal celebrations in their side’s 2-1 victory over Serbia on Friday. 

They locked their thumbs and spread their fingers to make their hands look like the double-headed eagle seen on the Albanian flag. 

Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri showed the two-hand gesture after they scored in the Group E match in the 52nd- and 90th- minute respectively. And Stephan Lichtsteiner too showed the same sign after the winning goal.

If you wish to find fault, it is a political expression. 

After all, Xhaka and Shaqiri are ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, where a Serbian crackdown on the Albanian population ended with NATO military intervention in 1999. 

But to others, it is an Albanian expression of elation. 

"It's just emotion", Shaqiri had said about his celebration. "I'm very happy to score this goal”. 

Still, football's world governing body FIFA on Monday fined Shaqiri and Xhaka CHF10,000 each and their captain Lichtsteiner CHF5,000 for “unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play”. 

All three players also received a warning – but were cleared to play in Switzerland's next match against Costa Rica today. 

The FIFA disciplinary panel had the power to impose two-match bans if the actions of the players were judged to have provoked the general public. 

Anyway, Switzerland fans promptly started a crowdfunding appeal to pay the fines totalling CHF25,000 imposed on the threesome – and within 18 hours, more than 60 percent of the money was already raised. 

The crowdfunding initiative was set up because the trio "brought joy and happiness to all Swiss and Albanians across the globe". 

Organizers have said they will donate the money raised to charity should the Swiss Football Association reject it. 

Personally, I think we shouldn’t read too much into the gesture. In fact, any gesture for that matter.

Yesterday, I was in Shah Alam, Selangor for the Fonterra Brands Toastmasters meeting. 

But it was a meeting with a difference – we had it in two locations. One at their HQ in the Subang Hi-tech Industrial Park and the other at their shared services center in Puchong. 

This was my first time experiencing a Toastmasters videoconference – and it was interesting. 

More than interesting – it was special because I presented my 600th project speech! It was a CC #7 speech titled “12 Zeros” and my 48th round of the CC manual. 

Special thanks to club president Aimi Rashidah for letting me have a speaking slot. I'm so-o-o grateful!

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