Fans of Scotland’s Celtic football team are planning to stage a protest against Israel when their team faces off with Hapoel Beersheba tonight in the Champions League.
The Israeli champion will play against the Scottish powerhouse at Celtic Park on Wednesday, August 17, with Beersheba hosting the return leg the following Tuesday. Celtic fans are waiting to greet the Israeli team and its fans with Palestinian flags. A Facebook page set up in honor of the occasion has already attracted 1.2K “interested” Facebook users. The page, entitled “Fly the flag for Palestine, for Celtic, for Justice,” was set up by a group that goes by the name Celtic Fans for Palestine.
The group says an Israeli football team should not be allowed to participate in the soccer competition “due to the system of apartheid laws and practices including religious- and ethnic-based colonization, military occupation and segregation of what remains of Palestinian land and over 90 laws which discriminate against indigenous Palestinians who make up 20 percent of the population of current-day Israel.”
Leaders of the initiative plan to distribute free Palestinian flags at the entrance to Celtic Way.
“When someone is representing Israeli state institutions it is sadly never merely a game; football, UEFA and Celtic FC are being used to whitewash Israel’s true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until it’s impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached,” the Facebook page states.
Hapoel Beersheba’s spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.
The Celtic group affiliates itself with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, which it hails as “inspiring and unstoppable.”
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) fined Celtic two years ago when fans waved Palestinian flags at a game against Iceland’s KR Reykjavik. UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Committee took action based on Article 16 (2) (e), which states that political, ideological and religious messages are unsuitable for sports events.
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