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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 20:51 GMT 21:51 UK
Protest game passes peacefully
Celtic's Shaun Maloney scored the first goal
Celtic's Shaun Maloney scored the first goal
About 200 pro-Palestinian campaigners gathered to protest against an under-21 football match between Scotland and Israel.

They wanted the friendly game in Hamilton to be called off, claiming it was an insult to people killed during violence in the Middle East.

But their pleas were rejected and the game went ahead at the Ballast Stadium.

There was a heavy security presence at the ground.

SFA logo
The SFA said the game was not political

However, a Strathclyde Police spokeswoman said: "The protesters stuck to the fact that they were having a peaceful protest and there were no incidents at the ground."

There were fears at one stage that the game could be under threat because of an electrical fault which meant that only two of the four floodlights were working as the match kicked off.

However, the problem was repaired and the match ended in a 2-1 victory for Scotland through goals from Celtic's Shaun Maloney and John Kennedy.

Campaigners wrote to the Scottish Football Association (SFA) last month calling for the game to be cancelled.

They also staged a demonstration outside Hampden Park in Glasgow.

The SFA argued that the match was not political.

Media conference

It also checked with the Foreign Office, which advised the association that the UK enjoyed normal relations and sporting links with Israel.

The protesters stepped up their campaign on the day of the game, staging a media conference in Glasgow.

Anas alt Ikriti, from the Muslim Association for Britain, said that the fixture tarnished the name of Scottish sport.


We are not talking about a normal situation with this game

Bill Speirs
STUC general secretary
"To disassociate sport with politics is a travesty," he said.

"The state of Israel is recognised by the United Nations as having breached civil conditions on human rights.

"To extend courtesy to a state that uses school playgrounds or stadiums in Palestine as holding cells for men aged 15 to 65 is something I feel is deeply embarrassing for Scottish sport."

Bill Speirs, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, said his organisation was deeply disappointed that the game went ahead.

Friendly fixture

He said: "We are not talking about a normal situation with this game.

"We would still have been perturbed if we were playing against an Israeli team as part of a Uefa competition but we understand this football match is a friendly fixture and does not have to take place.

"I have spoken to the chief executive of the SFA and he indicated to me that he saw no problem with this game, which shows to me a lack of awareness about what is happening in Palestine."


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04 Sep 02 | Football
16 Aug 02 | Scotland
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