Liverpool stars fly to Belgrade for Champions League duel

Liverpool stars fly to Belgrade for Champions League duel

Jürgen Klopp led his Liverpool team to Belgrade on Monday morning when he defended the decision to leave Xherdan Shaqiri at home for political tensions.

Liverpool's summer signing will not take place on Tuesday against Red Star Belgrade, fearing he would be hostile during a trip.

The Swiss midfielder infuriated the Serbs during the World Cup because, after scoring a goal during a game between the two sides, they held an inflammatory ceremony while wearing boots decorated with the Kosovo flag.

Xherdan Shaqiri incensed the Serbs by scoring a goal against them at the World Cup for Switzerland by making the eagle gesture, a symbol of ethnic Albanians who clash with Serbia over Kosovo's independence

Xherdan Shaqiri incensed the Serbs by scoring a goal against them at the World Cup for Switzerland by making the eagle gesture, a symbol of ethnic Albanians who clash with Serbia over Kosovo's independence

Xherdan Shaqiri incensed the Serbs by scoring a goal against them at the World Cup for Switzerland by making the eagle gesture, a symbol of ethnic Albanians who clash with Serbia over Kosovo's independence

Jürgen Klopp has given the reasons why he has left one of his summer submissions at home

Jürgen Klopp has given the reasons why he has left one of his summer submissions at home

Jürgen Klopp has given the reasons why he has left one of his summer submissions at home

Mohamed Salah was one of the stars who made the trip to Serbia before the European clash

Mohamed Salah was one of the stars who made the trip to Serbia before the European clash

Mohamed Salah was one of the stars who made the trip to Serbia before the European clash

Sadio Mane signs his autograph for a trailer as he is greeted at John Lennon Airport

Sadio Mane signs his autograph for a trailer as he is greeted at John Lennon Airport

Sadio Mane signs his autograph for a trailer as he is greeted at John Lennon Airport

Mane climbs ahead of the Champions League game on Tuesday against Red Star Belgrade

Mane climbs ahead of the Champions League game on Tuesday against Red Star Belgrade

Mane climbs ahead of the Champions League game on Tuesday against Red Star Belgrade

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is hoping for play time after not playing against Arsenal

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is hoping for play time after not playing against Arsenal

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge is hoping for play time after not playing against Arsenal

WHY XHERDAN SHAQIRI MADE EAGLE GESTURE?

Shaqiri's World Cup goalkeeping teamed his hands to form a "double eagle" – similar to the one on the Albanian flag.

Shaqiri is of Albanian-Kosovan origin. The symbol of his goal celebration sparked tensions between the Serbs, who do not recognize Kosovo's independence, and the ethnic Albanians who dominate the country.

The Serbs continue to be hostile to Kosovo, which declared its independence in 1990 but was subject to Yugoslav rule.

Tensions between the Kosovans and the Yugoslav forces, which were dominated by the Serbs, led in 1998 to a war that ended with NATO bombing in support of Kosovo, which remains an independent state until today.

More than a million Albanians like Shaqiri were driven out of Kosovo during the war by Yugoslav troops.

Shaqiri's family had already left the country in 1992 and emigrated to Switzerland.

It would have inevitably made him the target of a meeting of the Liverpool League Champions League against Red Star Belgrade.

Klopp said: "We will go to the fantastic city of Belgrade as a football team to play football.

"We've heard and read the speculation and talked about what kind of reception Shaq would receive, and even though we have no idea what would happen, we want to go there and focus 100 percent on football and not have to worry about anything else that's all.

"We are Liverpool FC, a big club, a football team, but beyond that we have no message, we have no political message, absolutely no, we want the focus to be on a great football match, free from anything else.

"We want to be respectful and try to avoid distractions that focus on a 90-minute race that is important for football and football only.

"That's why Shaq is not involved and he accepts and understands that. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us many times, but not on Tuesday. "

Shaqiri said last month, "I just go there to play a football game.

"It's not about politics, it's about football. I'm worried about nothing and go play. I've had that at the World Cup (Bohen), so I know I can handle no problem with it. "

The decision caused a stir on Twitter. Some supporters supported the decision and others said they would set a dangerous precedent.

Rory Jennings wrote: "Estimate how complex the situation of Red Star Belgrade / Shaqiri is, but the player's decision not to travel really feels like a wrong move. In the end, you reward bad behavior and punish the victim. It's a terrible precedent to … #LFC. "

While George Thorpe said in social media, "Liverpool likely wisely expels to leave Shaqiri for" Eaglegate "in the UK. To be fair, I do not think they would need him urgently to win against Red Star. "

Shaqiri's touch was whistled by supporters of the Red Stars two weeks ago during the first meeting of the two teams at Anfield, and the hostility would be even further directed against a former Yugoslav born player against Kosovan Albanian parents.

Shaqiri's was celebrated at the World Cup with a double-headed eagle – similar to the Albanian flag. These angry Serbs – who do not recognize the independence of Kosovo.

Kosovo broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1990, and tensions led to the Kosovo war in 1998/9, when more than a million Albanians were expelled from the tiny state.

The intervention of NATO led to the withdrawal of Yugoslavia, but the Serbs, who belonged to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, still do not recognize the independence of Kosovo.

An airport worker takes a selfie on Monday with Liverpool duo Fabinho and Alberto Moreno

An airport worker takes a selfie on Monday with Liverpool duo Fabinho and Alberto Moreno

An airport worker takes a selfie on Monday with Liverpool duo Fabinho and Alberto Moreno

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez looks very focused as he checks in before the flight

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez looks very focused as he checks in before the flight

Liverpool defender Joe Gomez looks very focused as he checks in before the flight

Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum arrive at the airport before traveling to Serbia

Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum arrive at the airport before traveling to Serbia

Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum arrive at the airport before traveling to Serbia

Liverpool can come one step closer with another victory in the knockout round of the Champions League

Liverpool can come one step closer with another victory in the knockout round of the Champions League

Liverpool can come one step closer with another victory in the knockout round of the Champions League

Liverpool's players – including Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah – looked relaxed from John Lennon Airport on Monday morning

Another three points would bring them within reach of the knockout round after draws were played between Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli on Matchday 3.

There will be other choices about who will travel to Belgrade, but one man who will not be involved is Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.

He is supposed to resume his full training at Melwood after a thigh problem, but he still has not got a good match.

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