Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Celtic 'concerned' by STUC Palestinian flag call

Celtic fans
Celtic said the match was not the place to hold a political demonstration

Celtic Football Club has opposed calls from a union body for its fans to wave Palestinian flags at Wednesday's match with Israeli team Hapoel Tel Aviv.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has asked supporters to "show solidarity with suffering Palestinians" at the Europa League game in Glasgow.

In a statement, Celtic said it was "extremely concerned" at the request.

The club said a crowded match was not the place for a public demonstration which could compromise safety.

Last week, STUC deputy general secretary Dave Moxham said a demonstration at the game was justified.

He said: "This December marks the one year anniversary of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in which 1,400 men, women and children were killed in an act described by the United Nations as 'indicating serious violations of international human rights' and 'amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity'.

No matter the rights and wrongs of any cause, a crowded football match is not the place for a public demonstration
Celtic FC statement

"Israel also continues to flout international law through its illegal occupation, through increasing settlements and building its so-called security wall which separates Palestinians, family from family and community from community."

Mr Moxham said millions around the world would be watching when Hapoel Tel Aviv visited Celtic Park.

He added: "I am writing to Celtic FC and Hapoel Tel Aviv FC outlining the reasons and purpose of this call and making clear that we attach no blame either to Hapoel Tel Aviv players, nor their fans, for the outrageous actions of their government.

"We hope that Celtic fans will join with us in a demonstration of support for a just and lasting peace in Israel/Palestine based on a safe and secure Palestinian homeland living side-by-side with Israel."

The call, however, is understood to have angered Celtic, who do not want to see the game become politicised.

Safety concern

In a statement on Tuesday, the club said it was "extremely concerned to learn of a call to hold demonstrations" at the game.

It said: "Our primary concern is that event safety may be compromised by the diversion of police and those involved in public safety duties, away from their main task which is the well-being of all fans attending the match.

"No matter the rights and wrongs of any cause, a crowded football match is not the place for a public demonstration.

"We have further concerns that any behaviour within Celtic Park, in breach of Uefa regulations and the Respect campaign, will have serious implications and consequences for Celtic as a club.

"Celtic FC urges our supporters to come and back the team and for everyone attending Celtic Park on Wednesday evening to behave in a responsible manner that does not compromise or divert resources from public safety or bring the club into disrepute."

The club said it welcomed the Israeli team and its supporters to the stadium and believed football was "a powerful medium for social integration".

It said: "Celtic has always been a club for all people, regardless of gender, age, religion, race, politics or ability.

"We therefore believe Celtic Park is no place for a political demonstration."

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