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Men's Football Fans told not to take flags relating to Israel-Palestine conflict to Celtic Park

CELTIC urged supporters not to bring flags and banners relating to the conflict between Israel and Palestine to last night’s Champions League match in Glasgow against Atletico Madrid.

The club — fearing repercussions from governing body Uefa — issued the plea after the Green Brigade fans’ group encouraged supporters to “courageously fly the flag for Palestine” amid a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

“We have witnessed death, violence and destruction in the Holy Land in recent weeks, with thousands of people — men, women and children — killed, injured and displaced,” read Celtic’s statement.

“We are witnessing a tragedy of horrendous scale. As it continues, everyone at Celtic prays for all who have been affected. We also hope and pray for peace and for humanitarian support to reach those who are in need and in fear.

“Many of our colleagues, supporters, friends and families have been affected by these events. Against this backdrop of conflict and pain, sport can promote peace and demonstrate humanity and empathy for all who continue to suffer.

“For the club’s Uefa Champions League match, Celtic and Atletico Madrid players and coaching staff will wear black armbands, as a show of respect and support for all those affected by the conflict.

“The club is also making a contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross to support people affected by the humanitarian crisis in the region.

“The club recognises that our supporters hold personal views to which everyone is entitled. As a club open to all, we all belong at Celtic Park.

“Celtic Park is where we come to support our football club. Recognising this, respecting the gravity of the tragedy unfolding and its impact on communities in Scotland and across the world, and in line with other clubs, leagues and associations, we ask that banners, flags and symbols relating to the conflict and those countries involved in it are not displayed at Celtic Park at this time.

“As we approach this crucial fixture, as ever, we sincerely thank our fans for their positive support of the players and the team.”

A section of Celtic’s support has long held an affiliation with the Palestinian cause, with the club having previously been sanctioned by Uefa for banners or flags showing support for Palestine.

Large numbers of Hoops fans held up the Palestine flag before Sunday’s match away to Hearts and the Green Brigade was intent on ensuring demonstrations of support at the Atletico match, setting it on a collision course with the club’s hierarchy.

“For those unable to obtain a flag, the Green Brigade will distribute thousands of flags outside the stadium,” the group said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

“While it would be easier to distribute flags inside, we are prohibited from bringing the flags into the stadium. We respect the right of all fans who wish not to participate in such an action, however equally we ask that the same respect and freedom is afforded to all fans who do.”

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