CAIRO – Leading Switzerland football victories to the World Cup, a galaxy of Muslim players in the Swiss squad are challenging Europsceptic and anti-immigrants’ sentiments, in a country where minarets ban raised anti-Muslim emotions for months.
After bans on minarets in 2009 and face veil in 2013, an anti-immigration referendum passed in February 2014 demanding a quota for immigration be set.
After the ban, which passed despite the fact that more than 22.3% of Swiss people are of immigrant origins, all eyes were fixed on the Swiss football team with its multicultural nature.
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The Swiss squad in Brazil features a high concentration of players from an immigrant background, with players of Albanian, FYROM Macedonian, Bosniak, Cape Verdean, and Ivorian roots.
The team, which weighs heavily on Muslim players from Albania, was ranked by FIFA before World Cup Brazil as the sixth best team in the world, ahead of traditional powers such as Italy, France, and The Netherlands.
Here are short portrays for key Muslim players in the Swiss team:
Xherdan Shaqiri [IMG]
The 22-year-old Xherdan Shaqiri will represent the Swiss national team during Brazil 2014 World Cup. Born in Yugoslavia from Albanian origin, the Muslim footballer plays as a midfielder for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga.
Since his breakthrough into Basel’s first team, the left-footed midfielder has drawn widespread praise for his speed, both on and off the ball.
Shaqiri won the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League title with Bayern in late May, as well as the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal title, making him one of the Bayern Munich players to have won the treble.
Shaqiri was named man of the match in Switzerland’s World Cup opening match in Brazil against Ecuador.
Philippe Senderos [IMG]
The Swiss player, who was born in February 1985 in Geneva, became a regular at Arsenal and won the FA Cup in 2005 before moving to Valencia CF.
The 29-year-old defender has embraced Islam in 2012, making the shahada or declaration of faith at an Islamic center in Manchester.
His first landmark victory was in the European under-17 Championship in 2002, while his first international match was in 2005 between France and Switzerland.
With 53 international caps and five international goals, the 190-cm Valencia defender was named by his country among its squad's key players at the world Cup 2014.
Admir Mehmedi [IMG]
Born in March 1991 in Macedonia, the Muslim footballer is among those listed to play for the Swiss squad in FIFA World Cup 2014.
Spending the majority of his youth career at FC Winthertu, the Albanian Mehmedi played his first international match between England and Switzerland in June 2014.
Playing for Switzerland at the UEFA European U-21 Championship 2011, the Muslim forward player made his first international debut in that same year.
Mehmedi, 183-cm, has a history of 22 international caps and two international goals.
Haris Seferovic [IMG]
The Real Sociedad striker, who was born in February 1992, started his football career 15 years ago at the age of 7.
Dubbed as one of Switzerland’s finest talents, the Bosnian Muslim footballer was selected to present Switzerland in FIFA World Cup 2014.
Seferovic has played his first international match in February 2013 between Greece and Switzerland.
The 187-cm striker has attended 12 international caps, scoring 2 goals.
Seferovic’s goal in the 92nd minute in Switzerland’s match against Ecuador has defined the result of the match, giving his country the first victory in 2014 World Cup.
Gokhan Inler [IMG]
The Swiss midfielder, who was born in Switzerland’s Olten in June 1984, has joined FC Aarau in 2005, playing his first international match in September 2006 between Switzerland and Venezuela.
Inler, a Muslim of Turkish origin, captained Switzerland against Spain in FIFA World Cup 2010, leading his country's victory 1–0.
With 74 international caps and 6 international goals, the 181-cm Inler was qualified to captain the Swiss Squad in FIFA World Cup 2014.
Valon Behrami [IMG]
The 29-year-old midfielder, who was born in Kosovo, started to discover his passion and love of football at the age of 13.
The 184-com footballer, Behrami, played his first international match in the Swiss squad against France in October 2005.
Appearing at Germany 2006, South Africa 2010 and UEFA EURO 2008, World CUP Brazil 2014 will be the midfielder's fourth major international tournament.
Blerim Dzemaili [IMG]
Born in April 1986 in the former Yugoslavia, Dzemaili has signed his first professional contract with FC Zurich in 2003.
The Muslim midfielder made his first international debut for Switzerland against Scotland in March 2006.
Although Dzemaili was listed to play for the Swiss squad in FIFA World Cup 2006, he couldn't make an appearance.
The 179-cm footballer, who was named as a regular player in Switzerland’s Brazil 2014 qualifying campaign, has a history of 34 international Caps and one international goal.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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