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The New Arab

Celtic fans raise $59,000 for Palestinian charities

Fans launched the fundraising drive in solidarity with Palestinians [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 August, 2016

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Celtic fans have raised $59,000 for Palestinian charities in defiance over UEFA sanctions for waving Palestinian flags during their team's clash with an Israeli side last week.

Celtic fans raised a whopping $59,000 dollars for Palestinian charities after anticipating a fine from European football's governing body for waving Palestinian flags at last week's Champions League qualifying first leg clash against an Israeli team.

The Glasgow club's Green Brigade group of supporters launched the fundraising effort initially to match an anticipated $20,000 fine from UEFA after fans expressed solidarity with Palestinians during Celtic's match with Hapoel Be'er Sheva.

"At the Champions League match with Hapoel Be'er Sheva on 17 August 2016, the Green Brigade and fans throughout Celtic Park flew the flag for Palestine," read The Green Brigade statement when they launched the appeal.

"This act of solidarity has earned Celtic respect and acclaim throughout the world. It has also attracted a disciplinary charge from UEFA, which deems the Palestinian flag to be an 'illicit banner'.

"In response to this petty and politically partisan act by European football's governing body, we are determined to make a positive contribution to the game and today launch a campaign to #matchthefineforpalestine."

The money raised will be distributed to Medical Aid Palestine, who deliver health and medical care to those "worst affected by conflict, occupation and displacement"; and the Lajee Centre, a cultural and sports project for children in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem.

The Green Brigade said the money for the Lajee centre would be put towards football kit and equipment so they can set up a team, to be called Aida Celtic and who will compete in the Bethlehem youth league.

Celtic - whose hearing is on September 22 - are serial offenders with regards to their supporters where UEFA are concerned, having been up before the governing body eight times in the past five years alone.

Celtic - who play Hapoel in the return leg on Tuesday - were fined $20,000 in 2014 for flying a Palestinian flag at a Champions League game against an Icelandic side.

The UEFA rule, which has sparked the latest hearing, forbids the use of "gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature".

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