Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka World Cup fines paid for by ethnic Albanians

Hundreds of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, including a government minister, have raised enough money to pay the fines imposed on Switzerland goal scorers Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri for their celebrations during the World Cup win over Serbia.

Both players, ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, celebrated by imitating the double-headed eagle displayed on Albania's flag. Swiss team captain Stephan Lichtsteiner joined them, and they were together fined almost £20,000 by FIFA.

Albanians in Kosovo and elsewhere donated to pay the fines, collecting more than the total needed with Bajram Hasani, the Minister of Trade and Industry, donating his monthly salary.

"I gave my salary as a sign to support our boys which make us proud," Hasani told Reuters. "This is to show the world we take care of them."

He added that the players might opt to donate the money should they chose not to accept it, with the funds having yet to be sent to the Swiss team.

In Albania's capital, Tirana, Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote on Facebook that he had opened a bank account to take donations called: 'Don't Be Afraid of the Eagle.'

"The sign of eagle with the hands is our way of expressing joy," Rama wrote.

Serbia refuses to recognise the independence of its former province Kosovo, whose 1.8 million people are mostly ethnic Albanians.

It opposed Kosovo's ultimately successful bids to join UEFA and FIFA, the governing bodies of European and world football.

Four of Switzerland's squad left their homes in the former Yugoslavia as children when war broke out in the 1990s. About three percent of Switzerland's population is ethnic Albanian, and for some the Swiss win over Serbia symbolised a victory over their ex-rulers.

But Xhaka and Shaqiri's celebrations divided opinions in Switzerland, with some defending them and others saying they felt their goals were scored by Kosovo rather than Switzerland.

With Kosovo and Albania not having qualified for the World Cup finals, many Kosovans are supporting Switzerland. When Shaqiri and Xhaka scored, hundreds took to the streets across Kosovo to celebrate, waiving Kosovan, Albanian and Swiss flags.