Celtic support defy club with Palestine flags at Champions League game

Flags were displayed throughout the ground ahead of the match against Atletico Madrid.

Celtic fans waved Palestinian flags in defiance of the club’s wishes ahead of the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid.

The club has released a strongly-worded statement on Wednesday asking supporters to refrain from bringing any banners or flags that related to the conflict between Israel and Hamas to the game, saying that the decision was “respecting the gravity of the tragedy unfolding”.

However, flags were seen throughout the ground ahead of kick-off at Celtic Park, with the corner of the stadium that houses the Green Brigade setting up a huge flag display.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 25: Green Brigade set up a display of a Palestine flag during a UEFA Champions League match between Celtic and Atletico de Madrid at Celtic Park, on October 25, 2023, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

The actions not only defied the club’s request but is likely to draw the attention of UEFA, who prohibit any political messaging and have issued fines for flag displays in the past.

The feud between the club and a section of the support on the issue has been ongoing, with the Green Brigade banned from away matches following pro-Palestine displays at recent games. Celtic fans held up Palestinian flags during Sunday’s Premiership match against Hearts at Tynecastle.

Celtic’s statement on Wednesday had intended to head off any further conflict.

The full statement read: “We have witnessed death, violence and destruction in the Holy Land in recent weeks, with thousands of people – men, women and children – killed, injured and displaced.

“We are witnessing a tragedy of horrendous scale. As it continues, everyone at Celtic prays for all who have been affected.

“We also hope and pray for peace, and for humanitarian support to reach those who are in need and in fear.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 25: A general view of Celtic Park as the fans hold up Palestine flags during a UEFA Champions League match between Celtic and Atletico de Madrid at Celtic Park, on October 25, 2023, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)SNS Group

“Many of our colleagues, supporters, friends and families have been affected by these events.

“Against this backdrop of conflict and pain, sport can promote peace and demonstrate humanity and empathy for all who continue to suffer.

“For the club’s UEFA Champions League match against Atletico Madrid this evening, Celtic and Atletico Madrid players and coaching staff will wear black armbands, as a show of respect and support for all those affected by the conflict.

“The club is also making a contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross to support people affected by the humanitarian crisis in the region.

“The club recognises that our supporters hold personal views to which everyone is entitled. As a club open to all, we all belong at Celtic Park.

“Celtic Park is where we come to support our football club. Recognising this, respecting the gravity of the tragedy unfolding and its impact on communities in Scotland and across the world, and in line with other clubs, leagues and associations, we ask that banners, flags and symbols relating to the conflict and those countries involved in it are not displayed at Celtic Park at this time.

“As we approach this crucial fixture, as ever, we sincerely thank our fans for their positive support of the players and the team.

“We thank you very much for your continued support of Celtic Football Club.”

A statement from the Green Brigade prior to that had said that the sanctions it faced were “motivated by a desire to quash political expression within the Celtic support”.

The statement added: “In spite of this, and any further obstruction, we once again encourage fans to courageously fly the flag for Palestine.

“For those unable to obtain a flag, the Green Brigade will distribute thousands of flags outside the stadium. While it would be easier to distribute flags inside, we are prohibited from bringing the flags into the stadium.”

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