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Celtic fans raise over €50,000 for Palestinian charities

The money raised will be distributed to Medical Aid Palestine.

Celtic fans in the stands at Celtic Park during the recent Champions League Qualifying match against Hapoel Beer Sheva.
Celtic fans in the stands at Celtic Park during the recent Champions League Qualifying match against Hapoel Beer Sheva.

TWO PALESTINIAN CHARITIES have picked up an unexpected financial windfall with £45000 (€52000) raised by supporters of Scottish Champions Celtic it was revealed on Monday.

One of the historic club’s supporters groups Green Brigade launched the fundraising effort initially to match an anticipated £15000 fine from European governing body UEFA for fans waving Palestinian flags at last week’s Champions League qualifying first leg clash in Glasgow against Israeli side Hapoel Beersheba.

The money raised will be distributed to Medical Aid Palestine, who deliver health and medical care to those “worst affected by conflict, occupation and displacement”; and the Lajee Centre, a cultural and sports project for children in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.

The Green Brigade said the money for the Lajee centre would be put towards football kit and equipment so they can set up a team, to be called Aida Celtic and who will compete in the Bethlehem youth league.

“At the Champions League match with Hapoel Be’er Sheva on 17 August 2016, the Green Brigade and fans throughout Celtic Park flew the flag for Palestine,” read The Green Brigade statement when they launched the appeal.

This act of solidarity has earned Celtic respect and acclaim throughout the world. It has also attracted a disciplinary charge from Uefa, which deems the Palestinian flag to be an ‘illicit banner’.

“In response to this petty and politically partisan act by European football’s governing body, we are determined to make a positive contribution to the game and today launch a campaign to #matchthefineforpalestine.”

Celtic – whose hearing is on September 22 — are serial offenders with regards to their supporters where Uefa are concerned having been up before them eight times in the past five years alone.

Celtic – who play Hapoel in the return leg on Tuesday — were fined £15000 in 2014 for flying a Palestinian flag at a Champions League game against an Icelandic side.

The Uefa rule, which has sparked the latest hearing, forbids the use of “gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature”.

Israeli police, though, have made it clear they will be on high alert for the game and seize any Palestinian flags Celtic fans wave.

“Police units will respond in order to ensure that the game will be a professional game and not a political one,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

© – AFP 2016

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