Celtic fans have reacted with outrage at the Scottish Trade Union Congress’ attempts to use the Hapoel Tel Aviv Europa League match as a political rally against Israel.
The STUC, backed by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, plans to hand out 10,000 Palestinian flags to fans entering the Celtic Park stadium as an “act of solidarity”, almost one year after Operation Cast Lead.
Writing on blogs, comments and message boards, Celtic fans have railed against the mixing of football and Middle East politics.
One blogger, writing on Celtic Quick News, wrote: ”They will receive the warm welcome all visiting fans get at Celtic Park. I am sure they will not bring Iraq or Afghanistan flags to Glasgow in some misguided protest; their geo-political awareness is far too well informed for that. Welcome Hapoel fans, I hope you enjoy your stay in Glasgow and your team get a good hiding.”
Over 635 comments followed, most backing the call against the STUC.
A spokesman from Celtic FC said that the club was “extremely concerned” about the plans and questioned their compliance with UEFA regulations.
He said: “We believe Celtic Park is no place for a political demonstration.
“No matter the rights and wrongs of any cause, a crowded football match is not the place for a public demonstration.
COMMENTS BY CELTIC FANS
I don’t remember any calls to protest against Russian teams that we have played against, despite their actions in Chechnya. More generally where are the flags of solidarity for the people of Darfur, of Tibet and of Kurdistan? The flag waving is an easy bit of tokenism, a way of taking sides. But this isn’t football, and if Celtic Park becomes the location of another instance of Israel being uniquely singled out for such treatment, then we are all diminished.
I fear due to the lower ticket sales, STUC members will be able to buy tickets and group together near enough to the Hapoel supporters to make their protest known and drag our club down to their level, hopefully the police will take a heavy handed approach to removing the STUC members.
I believe the STUC are sincere in their cack-handed attempt to hijack a Celtic match for their political agenda, but really, they should keep this stuff for the student union or wherever deluded Trots hang out these days.
Anyone who thinks that Celtic Park for a Europa League game is the time and place to display their views on the troubles in the Middle East should be forced to have a permanent carer and their shoes replaced with velcro only versions.
Hapoel Tel Aviv are a football team, not a political movement, they come here to play a football match. The world of football exists to cross borders and break down barriers therefore I see no merit whatsoever in the proposed STUC backed "protest.”