Celtic fans defied criticism from the club’s board to show their support for Palestine at Sunday’s Scottish Premiership match at Hearts.
A number of supporters in the 576-strong away section at Tynecastle Park held up Palestine flags despite the club condemning the display of pro-Palestine banners a fortnight ago.
Prior to their Scottish Premiership clash with Kilmarnock, ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Victory to the Resistance’ banners were held up by the Green Brigade Ultras at Celtic Park.
It came hours after militant group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing hundreds of residents and taking dozens of hostages, leading to retaliatory strikes from Israel.
A similar display is also planned for Tuesday night’s Champions League match against Atletico Madrid.
Celtic fans defied criticism from the club’s board to show their support for Palestine
Swathes of the 576-strong away section at Tynecastle Park held up the country’s colours
The movement has been met with mixed reaction – with former Celtic player Nir Bitton labelling supporters as ‘brainwashed’ on Sunday afternoon.
In response to the banners, Celtic have insisted that they ‘disassociate’ with the flags and insisted that ‘political messages and banners are not welcome at Celtic Park’.
‘Banners displayed in a section of Celtic Park prior to Saturday’s game do not represent the views of Celtic Football Club and we disassociate ourselves from them. We condemn the display of such messages at Celtic Park,’ they said.
‘Celtic is a football club and not a political organisation. One of our core values from inception is to be open to all regardless of race, colour, politics or creed.
‘That is why the club has always made clear that political messages and banners are not welcome at Celtic Park, or any match involving Celtic.
‘At a time of loss and suffering for many, it is entirely inappropriate for any group of individuals to use Celtic Park as a vehicle for such messages.
‘We call on all supporters, regardless of their personal views, to unite in backing our players and the club while respecting the rights and beliefs of others; particularly those whose lives are affected by violence and hatred.’
However, in response to their statement, the Celtic Supporters’ Association have claimed that they ‘have the right to express political views on the terraces’.
In a statement of their own, the supporters’ group said: ‘Following a recent Celtic PLC statement we would like to reiterate our unshakeable belief that we, and other football supporters, have the right to express political views on the terraces just as ordinary citizens do elsewhere in society.
Celtic supporters hold up banners that read ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Victory to the Resistance’
Celtic fans often shown support for Palestine, with the country’s flag a regular fixture at games
‘Football remains one of the few areas of public life where working class people have genuine political agency, and we will not be dictated to by an elitist board that has repeatedly demonstrated contempt for the history and traditions of Celtic Football Club.
In 2021, Celtic hit out at ‘unacceptable’ behaviour by fan group The Green Brigade after they put out a fan display in support of Palestine.
Officials encouraged the fan group to lay out shirts, scarves and flags inside Parkhead ahead of captain Scott Brown’s final Celtic game at home.
And, in 2016, UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic after supporters displayed Palestine flags during their Champions League qualifier against Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheva.