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'Celtic supporters were voted the best in the world' - Brendan Rodgers on racism claims

Aberdeen full-back Shay Logan recently said he expected to be abused by some of the club’s fans.

Brendan Rodgers speaking during a press conference in Dublin on Friday.
Brendan Rodgers speaking during a press conference in Dublin on Friday.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

CELTIC BOSS BRENDAN Rodgers has played down suggestions that a section of the club’s support are racist.

The allegations stem from an interview with Aberdeen right-back Shay Logan that appeared in the Evening Press, in which the player said he “expects” racist abuse from some of the reigning Scottish champions’ fans.

Logan was involved in a heated game last season, which saw Aberdeen beat Celtic 1-0 at Parkhead.

The 30-year-old former Manchester City youngster clashed with Mikael Lustig and Dedryck Boyata following the victory and was shown a red card after the final whistle.

He continued to celebrate as he was going towards the tunnel, allegedly receiving the abuse as he left the field.

It is part of a long-running saga between player and club. In 2014, then-Celtic player Aleksandar Tonev received a seven-game ban for racially abusing Logan, with a section of the Scottish team’s support allegedly targeting the defender ever since.

Responding to Logan’s comments, Rodgers said: “It’s not something that we would ever want to see anywhere. There’s always been an ongoing thing with young Shay since an incident I was made aware of when I came in. But the Celtic supporters were voted the best supporters in the world. I think that says it all in terms of the ambience around the stadium and how they behave themselves.

“It’s not something we want to go into and it’s not something the Celtic supporters are ever talked about or renowned for. It’s a wonderful atmosphere at Celtic Park, of course, and you probably don’t help yourself if you walk about after the game and do all sorts of gestures. The Celtic supporters have been given a title last year and there’s a reason why.”

Rodgers was speaking in Dublin ahead of his side’s friendly match with Shamrock Rovers this afternoon at Tallaght Stadium (3pm kick-off).

The game will serve as important preparation ahead of the team’s upcoming Champions League qualifier against Alashkert of Armenia, with the away first leg taking place on Tuesday.

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One of the main challenges facing the Scottish side will be the intensely hot weather out in Armenia, and Rodgers acknowledges they must be careful in this regard.

It’s always difficult if you’re playing in extreme heat like that, but we just have to monitor the blocks of pressure we put on for the game. It’s hard to press for 90 minutes, that’s for sure, so it’s just preparing the players tactically as much as physically in terms of how you can put a full press on them, at times it’s going to be medium press or lower. So tactically, you’re preparing the players for that.”

In the coming season, Celtic will be without Patrick Roberts, who has returned to Man City following a successful loan spell and Stuart Armstrong, who joined Southampton in a £7 million deal last month.

Rodgers consequently admits his side need to “strengthen” ahead of the new season. Young Liverpool winger Harry Wilson and Hibernian midfielder John McGinn have been among the players linked with a move to Parkhead, but the Celtic boss was unwilling to shed further light on these prospective deals.

Meanwhile, one player the club will most certainly be keen to keep hold of is 21-year-old full-back Kieran Tierney, who has been linked with Everton among others of late.

“Kieran’s been absolutely great as per normal. He can only stay focused. Thankfully, he’s at a club that he loves and he still knows he’s trying to get fit and he’s still learning, so there’s been no change [with his situation].

“He’s a young player, he’s developing in the game, he’s a wonderful talent, a great boy to work with. He’s everything you would want as a manager. He gets his rewards on the pitch for what he does off it.”

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Paul Fennessy

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