Celtic Club supporters who showed solidarity with Palestinians remain defiant despite season ticket ban
The Celtic Fan supporters group – The Green Brigade, whose members lifted the spirits of millions around the globe with the heroic display of solidarity with the Palestinians during the Champions league game between Celtic and Atletico Madrid last week by waving Palestinian flags, have been barred from attending home matches by the club management. The sanctions imposed against ultra/Green Brigade members will mean that Green Flag season ticket holders will be barred from Home matches. Yet the supporters group remains undeterred and wasted no time in hitting back in defiance.
In a strongly worded letter, which sets out to discredit the motives of the banning sanction, and restates the supporters group’s continued commitment to showing solidarity with the Palestinian people, they encouraged ‘all fans everywhere to fly the flag for Palestine’.
Following the Champions league match - footage from which shows the ground’s terraces awash with Palestinian flags and which went viral on social media, the Celtic Club’s management sent an email to Celtic Park supporters informing them that all season ticket holders who had registered as members of the ‘ultras’ group have had their season tickets suspended. The email cited ‘repeated incidents of unacceptable conduct involving the ‘Green Brigade’ group’ and included a caveat indicating that the decision was subject to review and further communication with the supporters group. It read:
‘We are writing to advise that due to repeated incidents of unacceptable conduct involving the 'Green Brigade' group, the Club has suspended the season tickets of all season ticket holders who have registered with the Ticket Office as being part of this group, pending further review and communication with the group and/or the supporters in question regarding compliance with the Ground Regulations, the Rail Seating Safety Code of Conduct, and Club communications, moving forward.
Therefore, your ticket is not eligible for use tomorrow night for our match against St. Mirren and will remain suspended until further notice. Access to away tickets for supporters registered as being part of the group will also remain suspended. The safety of all supporters at Celtic Park is of paramount importance and amid these serious safety concerns, this immediate action whilst regrettable, is considered by the Club to be necessary’
The response from the Green Brigade supporters was bold, unequivocal and defiant. It read:
'The PLC board has shamed Celtic Football Club with their conduct'
‘In recent weeks, Celtic supporters have proudly stood in solidarity with the Palestinian people, while the PLC board adopted a position closer to the far-right British Government, with similar attempts to censor and sanction Palestinian solidarity. As the death toll in Gaza nears 10,000, including almost 4,000 children - the PLC board has shamed Celtic Football Club with their conduct.
It is undeniable that the sanctions imposed against those affiliated with the Green Brigade are a result of the group's unapologetic solidarity with Palestine. The sanctions applied, most notably collective bans, are evidently unfair; bereft of policy, process and communication with individuals wrongfully being punished before receiving any allegation, any evidence or any right of defence.
While we expect any fair-minded person will see through the flimsy litany of allegations there are some which we would like to address.
As an ultras group, known for boisterous support and creativity, we occasionally breach the assorted regulations, which are in place to sterilise football stadiums. Whether it be an anti-fascist banner against Lazio or Palestine flags against Atletico Madrid, we have no regrets in by-passing stadium security checks to produce displays that are clearly welcomed by the Celtic support as well as audiences from much farther afield. We categorically deny sinister and defamatory allegations of "breaking in" and "intimidating, threatening and abusive behaviour towards staff.
It is laughable that "unsafe behaviour" is being alleged of the Green Brigade at Saturday's match at Hibernian, given Celtic officials were complicit in the widely-criticised security operation on the approach to the stadium which compromised the safety of our supporters. From erecting steel pens around the standing section which were later removed in the interest of supporter safety, to actively encouraging pyrotechnic use at specific fixtures as a means of protest at certain domestic kick-off times, senior Celtic officials have repeatedly discredited their authority in this area. In the meantime, the club have instructed us not to liaise with the Supporter Liaison Officer, ironically against UEFA's SLO guidance.
While fans remain unjustifiably banned, with hundreds hugely out of pocket for the upcoming trip to Madrid, and while the PLC board is shamefully positioned on the wrong side of history, we encourage all concerned to voice your displeasure to those within the Club who are responsible for these decisions and sanctions.
Finally, we are heartened by the overwhelming messages of support from other Celtic fans, fan groups and fan media as well as from people around the world who are following this story. While we may be absent from matches, we encourage all fans everywhere to fly the flag for Palestine.’
Celtic Trust demands that Celtic PLC withdraw the sanctions immediately
One of the principal club supporter’s umbrella organisations, ‘the Celtic Trust’ – which boasts its ‘historic roots as a social institution taking proper account of the community which it serves’, has demanded that the Celtic Club chiefs reverse the sanctions imposed on the ultra season ticket holders. The statement of the Celtic Trust was openly published and reads:
‘The Trustees of the Celtic Trust wish to comment on the decision of Celtic PLC to withdraw, for an indefinite period, the season ticket rights of a section of the Celtic support. From the information now available on social media, it is abundantly clear to us that this action has been motivated by the flying of Palestinian flags at Celtic Park in protest against the continuing wholesale and indiscriminate slaughter of Palestinian civilians, including over 3000 children. This show of anger and solidarity with the Palestinian people was supported by thousands of Celtic supporters around the stadium and not for the first time.
Why then was only one group singled out and targeted?…the Trustees are concerned that the action by Celtic, given the timing, is either politically motivated or motivated by an unwillingness to stand up to UEFA. We stand with the Green Brigade in their calls to end the genocide in Gaza – as do hundreds of thousands of people across the UK and across the world – and we call on Celtic to restore the season ticket rights of the Green Brigade immediately pending refreshed and open dialogue with the Green Brigade and other supporters’
Scotland's First Minister, Humza Yousaf, supports the waving of Palestinian flags at the Champion's League match
Green Brigade and Ultra members will be able to take heart that according to Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, they are on the right side of history. When asked about the show of Palestinian solidarity at the Chamion’s league match, he commented:
‘We're a democratic society, people can wave Israeli flags, Palestinian flags, Scottish flags, Union Jacks all they want. Of course waving flags is a demonstration of solidarity. There are more important issues than flags being waved in this crisis’
Just hours before Wednesday’s match Yousaf is quoted as saying:
‘We have witnessed death, violence and destruction in the Holy Land in recent weeks, with thousands of people - men, women and children - killed, injured and displaced. We are witnessing a tragedy of horrendous scale. As it continues, everyone at Celtic prays for all who have been affected. We also hope and pray for peace, and for humanitarian support to reach those who are in need and in fear’