Granit Xhaka (foto: Getty Images)
In a dramatic turn of events that has sent shockwaves through European football, Swiss national team captain Granit Xhaka is facing intense scrutiny for his actions during and after a European Championship qualifier against Kosovo.
The match, which ended in a 2-2 draw, saw Xhaka's lack of defensive effort in the dying moments contribute to Kosovo's equalizing goal in the 94th minute.
Xhaka, who stood idly at the edge of the penalty area as Vedad Muriqi netted the late equalizer, has been widely criticized for his passive role in the crucial play. "It's a moment that has left many questioning his leadership qualities," said a source close to the Swiss Football Association.
Adding fuel to the fire, Xhaka openly criticized Swiss coach Murat Yakin's preparation for the match. "We had an open and honest conversation; it was not wise of him to publicly criticize or suggest how we should play," Yakin responded in a press conference, as reported by AFP.
Xhaka did, however, receive support from Kosovo fans, further complicating the narrative around his actions. The Arsenal midfielder was seen engaging in warm conversations with Kosovo players post-match, alongside teammate Gjerdan Shaqiri.
The Swiss Football Association has yet to issue an official statement, but insiders suggest that Xhaka's role as captain could be under review. "After 45 minutes of conversation, we agreed to focus on the next challenge," said Yakin, leaving the door open for future developments.
As Switzerland continues its quest for European Championship qualification, all eyes will be on Xhaka and how he responds to this latest controversy, both on and off the pitch.