Celtic fans #MatchtheFineforPalestine, raise £110k following flag protest

Celtic fans hold up Palestine flags © Russell Cheyne
Supporters of Celtic football club known as The Green Brigade raised more than £110,000 (US$144,000) and counting, as of Tuesday afternoon, in reaction to a fine from the sport’s European governing body UEFA over a Palestinian flag-waving incident last week.

READ MORE: Celtic fans vow to cover UEFA disciplinary fine & match it for Palestinian charities

Disciplinary proceedings against the UK club started after numerous fans displayed the occupied territory’s flag during a 5-2 victory against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva in Glasgow.

Supporters set up a crowdfunding appeal Sunday to match the anticipated fine of £15,000 (US$19,700), with the aim of donating the rest to Medical Aid Palestine, which delivers health assistance to “Palestinians living under occupation and as refugees,” and the Lajee Centre, a youth project for children living in Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp.

Organizers of the appeal said they back Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation.

“This act of solidarity has earned Celtic respect and acclaim throughout the world,” a statement on the fundraising page read. “It has also attracted a disciplinary charge from UEFA, which deems the Palestinian flag to be an ‘illicit banner.’

“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,” the message added.

Fundraisers said the money will be used to buy equipment and football kits for children in the camp to have a team, which would be called “Aida Celtic.”

The UEFA fine is the ninth punishment for fans in the last five years. The club was fined more than £15,000 in a similar incident when Celtic played KR Reykjavik in 2014.

UEFA rules forbid the use of “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.”

However, fans at Tuesday night’s “return leg” to be played in Israel will be allowed to fly Israeli flags, despite its own long political and ideological legacy.

Celtic’s case is due to be heard on September 22.