Making the front page for the wrong reasons. Here’s the cover of today’s Israel HaYom newspaper:
The red highlighted piece has a picture of the wall of hate at Parkhead, Celtic’s home stadium.
Above the main headline – Provocation – it says:
Shame. Celtic supporters try to assault Hapoel Be’er Sheva supporters.
As far as I can tell, the attempts must have succeeded to some extent as there is discussion on a Celtic Facebook page about people successfully grabbing an Israeli flag from an opposition supporter.
Be that as it may, under the picture it says:
Hundreds of supporters of the Scottish champions waived Palestinian flags outside and inside the stadium. Supporters of the Israeli champions were forced to enter under police escort. On the field, Be’er Sheva were defeated 5:2.
I have not heard any independent reports about the match, but the pictures available tend to speak for themselves. It’s not all Celtic supporters – it’s the vocal hateful minority – but it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth. And, yes, somewhat ironical that it was an Israeli player who was sent on as a sub when the Celtic were a wee bit shaky in the second half.
Celtic knew there was going to be an issue with supporters and flags, but I see no sign that any attempt was made to stop this happening. Celtic do know it is against UEFA rules, having been fined for it before. However, the low level of fines may be one reason why they reckoned it was not worth the effort to do something about it. Their financial gain for reaching the Champions’ League is substantial. While I don’t think Celtic as a club deserve the punishment, there is a part of me that would like UEFA to throw them out of the tournament for being repeat offenders. Boy would that get the message across. But that is not going to happen. In fact, there’s more chance of Hapoel overturning the deficit in the return leg, and knocking out Celtic. And there’s zero chance of that!