Celtic fans crowdfund £176k to pay UEFA Palestine flag fine
Supporters of Celtic FC, known as the Green Brigade, have donated £176,000 (US$220,000) to two Palestinian charities. The donation was crowdfunded in reaction to a UEFA fine over Celtic fans flying Palestinian flags at a match.
Although European football's governing body UEFA forbids political displays at football matches, in August Celtic fans went on to fly a mass of Palestinian flags during the first leg of their Champions League play-off match against Israeli team Hapoel Be'er Sheva.
UEFA went on to fine the Scottish football club £8,619 ($10,700) for the fans' display, which called for support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
To help the club pay the fine, the Green Brigade - who self-identify as the club's 'Ultras', or hardcore fan group - set up a crowdfunding appeal to match the sum, promising to send any extra cash raised to Palestinian charities.
Fundraisers said the money will be used to buy equipment and football kits for children in the Aida refugee camp in the West Bank to have a team, which would be called ‘Aida Celtic’.
By the end of the campaign in October, football activists managed to raise £176,076 ($220,00) over the fine amount, which was donated to Lajee Refugee Center and Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP) last weekend.
“What started out as a fan led initiative in exposing the hypocrisy of UEFA's ‘no politics in football’ mantra quickly spiraled into a viral, worldwide campaign,” the fundraising page says.
The presentation of the donation took place in Celtic Way outside Celtic Park before Saturday's match against Hearts.
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) offers medical care for Palestinians most affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Lajee Center charity at the Aida Refugee Camp provides various sports activities for young people at the camp.