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The Revenge of the Eagle

The eagle is the national symbol of Albanians used for more than six centuries. A double-headed black eagle was adopted by the legendary warrior, Skanderbeg, who adopted it from the byzantine flag. Since then, it has been the symbol of Albanians living in different part of Balkans.

At the same time, a double-headed, but white eagle is used as a symbol of Serbians. It has become more visible after the dissolution of Yugoslavia and what remained of it. But, it’s the Albanians who identify with the eagle symbol, made mostly by crossing the hands tied with the thumbs.

Last year, Switzerland and Serbia met in a group stage match in Russia, during FIFA’s World Cup. Switzerland overcame Serbia’s early advantage with two goals scored by Kosovars, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri. This looked like a script written by Tarantino, only bloodless and without a prequel.

The prequel, the origin of this script was written in the 1980, years before Xhaka and Shaqiri were even born, while it started centuries ago.

Kosovars were the minority in ex-Yugoslavia, and didn’t have a right to study until 1968, and became an autonomous entity in 1974. After Tito’s death in 1980, Serbian government began taking back the rights of self-governance granted to Kosovars and other nationalities too. This led to the war of 1990’s in Balkans. It’s called a war, although it was a fight of central government, army, against the population who didn’t have any weapons or artillery. It wasn’t a war between two countries, it was a war of a country against people who were part of that country.

Among those people were Xhaka’s parents. His father was arrested for being part of peaceful student demonstrations in 1986 and was jailed to six years. After spending half of the sentence, when released he moved to Switzerland, where two years later Granit was born!

Xherdan Shaqiri was twelve months old when his family immigrated to Switzerland.

The immigration wasn’t exclusive to those who protested. The demonstration continued when after annexing Kosovo, Serbians fired Albanians from the public institutions, resulting in an enormous unemployment rate; while this continued with closing the schools and faculties for Albanians, prohibiting the education in their language. Most people immigrated because they were left with the choice of the slow death or surviving somewhere else. There were people who still lived in Kosovo, and who were helped by the Kosovar diaspora.

Beating the country who was trying to assimilate your parents, beating a country whose army and paramilitary forces killed family members from a few months old babies to eighty-year old elders, by scoring goals in the most popular event in the history of the world is the sweetest, smallest, and the softest revenge you could get.

That revenge came a year ago, and it was a small victory for the people who suffered for almost half-a century by the people who were oppressing them, killing them, and deporting them.

In 1999, there were more than a million, two thirds of Albanian Kosovars deported to the neighbouring countries when Serbian forces began ethnic cleansing of Kosovo – a territory inhabited by almost two million people, 90% of whom were Albanians! Since then, the country has been suffering for its international recognition since becoming independent in 2008, while is still being attacked politically by Serbia in every field of life.

Those two goals, that victory of Switzerland, signed by two goals of Xhaka and Shaqiri, is one of the sweetest revenges these people got against the country that oppressed and still fights them, daily! It was the victory of the people who were born and died without recognizing the freedom. It was the revenge of the eagle.