CELTIC’s charge into the Champions League has had the unexpected knock-on effect of raising funds for impoverished Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.
The Scottish club will be fined by UEFA after some segments of the support flew the Palestinian flag while entertaining Israeli team Hapoel Be’er Sheva at Parkhead in a Champions League qualifier.
Since then more than £162,000 has been raised on the GoFundMe website under the campaign ‘match the fine for Palestine’ and donated to various children’s charities in the war-torn Palestinian territories.
The chief charities to benefit are Medical Aid Paletine, which offers health care to those afflicted by ‘conflict, occupation and displacement’, and a sports project for children in Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp.
“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. 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’,” read the appeal.
“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.”
It’s not the first time the club has been fined for supporters offering solidarity to Palestine, while UEFA has made a pretty penny on the side suing clubs across Europe for displaying “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”.