Celtic bans Green Brigade group from matches

Green Brigade
Palestinian flags were flown by fans across the stadium on Wednesday night

By Bill Heaney

BBC Scotland is reporting that a section of the Celtic support known as the Green Brigade have had their season tickets withdrawn indefinitely by the club.

It is understood Celtic made the decision due to what it believes is the group’s consistent failure to adhere to club and stadium rules.

The Green Brigade are already banned from receiving tickets for away games.

Celtic said there had been a “serious escalation” in unacceptable behaviour by the fans’ group.

It follows the Green Brigade recently defying pleas by Celtic not to bring Palestinian flags to matches.

But the club said the indefinite ban had been sparked by a series of incidents at other games over an extended period of time.

These included:

  • The widespread and unsafe use of pyrotechnics at Feyenoord on 19 September
  • Rushing turnstiles and forcing open fire exits at Fir Park, Motherwell, on 30 September
  • Illegally gained access to Celtic Park in advance of the match against Lazio on 4 October to bring in an unauthorised banner
  • Violent and intimidating behaviour towards stewards at Easter Road, Edinburgh, on 28 October.

A Celtic statement said: “To avoid any misunderstanding… It is as a result of the increasingly serious escalation in these unacceptable behaviours and non-compliance with applicable regulations that the progressive steps are being taken by the Club.”

The Green Brigade, which occupy the north curve of Celtic Park, traditionally organise a tifo – a choreographed display involving a large banner or image – for major games.

The group handed out Palestinian flags and held up banners before last Wednesday’s Champions League match against Spanish side Atletico Madrid.

The flags were also waved in other parts of the stadium as well as the section occupied by the group.

Ahead of the game, the club told supporters that players and coaching staff from both sides would wear black armbands “as a show of respect and support for all those affected by the conflict”.

But it said banners, flags and symbols relating to the Israel-Hamas conflict “should not be displayed at Celtic Park at this time”.

Banners displayed at the Celtic Park
Free Palestine banners were displayed at Celtic Park during a match.

Celtic are widely expected to face a Uefa fine over the flags.

Fans of the club have also displayed Palestinian flags at recent Scottish Premiership games against Kilmarnock – hours after Hamas launched an attack on Israel – and Hearts.

In a previous statement, the Green Brigade reiterated their “unshakeable belief” that football supporters have the right to express political beliefs.

It accused the Celtic board of being disingenuous and hypocritical over their claim that the club was apolitical, citing issues over the club’s history and the war in Ukraine.

The statement urged fans to “raise the Palestine flag on the European stage” at the Atletico match “to show the world that Celtic Football Club stands with the oppressed, not the oppressor”.

The Glasgow club was founded by a Marist Brother in the late 19th Century to help feed the poor in the east end of the city.

Sections of the fan base have previously used matches to support social justice causes and make political statements.

These include bringing food parcels to Celtic Park during the cost of living crisis.

Many Celtic fans have long had an affiliation with the Palestinian cause, with Uefa fining the club in 2014 after fans waved Palestinian flags during a match against Iceland’s KR Reykjavik.

The Green Brigade chose to display the flag once again during their team’s 2016 Champions League qualifier against Israeli side, Hapoel Beer-Sheva – a move which landed the club a £8,600 fine.

The club have distanced themselves from the flags and banners, and both Uefa and Fifa have said that politics and football should not mix.

The latest Celtic statement said: “The Club should also note that it has been advised of a number of banners and flags used by the Green Brigade which relate to or are connected with terrorist organisations involved in the conflict in the Middle East.

“This is completely unacceptable at Celtic Park and any match involving Celtic Football Club.

“The Club is continuing to investigate these and other unacceptable instances of the groups actions.”

One comment

  1. Neds.
    People go to view sport, football in particular to escape the daily diet of politics, news, wars & general doom & gloom usually.

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