A major fine by the UEFA expected to be levied against Scottish football powerhouse Celtic F.C., after a group of fans publicly displayed Palestinian flags during a playoff match against Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
Celtic fans, however, aren’t backing down, and have insisted that they will “match the fine for Palestine,” raising nearly $100,000, and promising to donate the money to Palestinian charities.
Celtic fans flew thousands of the flags at last week’s match in Glasgow’s Celtic Park as a “show of solidarity” with Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, as they played the first leg of a series against the team from southern Israel.
This was not the first time Celtic showed interest in the cause of Palestinian independence, however, as fans have in the past flown Palestinian flags at certain games, including those not involving an Israeli team. In 2014 the UEFA fined Celtic some $20,000 for allowing fans to display an “illicit banner” i.e. the Palestinian flag, during a game against an Icelandic team. That incident was during the 2014 Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.
The second leg of the playoff is Tuesday in Israel. Israeli police have warned they have “zero tolerance” for Scottish fans with Palestinian flags, and have vowed to jail anyone who attempts to display such a flag during the match. Celtic is leading 5-2 after dominating the home leg of the playoff.