RONNY Deila has called on Celtic supporters to self-police at the San Siro stadium tonight after the Scottish champions were left reeling by yet another Uefa sanction for crowd misconduct.
On the day they departed Glasgow for the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie against Inter Milan, the Parkhead club learned they had been fined £7,300 by Uefa’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body for the behaviour of some of their fans at last December’s group stage fixture against Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia.
It is the eighth time Celtic have been punished in the last eight years by Uefa for incidents involving their followers, racking up a total of over £150,000 in fines.
The latest has been imposed for what Uefa describe as “crowd disturbances” during the 4-3 defeat in Zagreb which saw flares set off from the section of the Maksimir Stadium housing the visiting fans.
Celtic have previously warned their support that if the recidivism of recent years does not cease, they are in danger of suffering a sporting sanction from Uefa in future. That could include Celtic Park being partially or wholly closed for a home European tie.
Having revelled in the exemplary atmosphere created by a sell-out 60,000 crowd in last Thursday’s first leg 3-3 draw against Inter Milan, Deila has expressed his dismay at the ongoing problems being caused to Celtic by some of their support. The Norwegian believes it is time for the majority of fans to play a role in weeding out the troublemakers and he sent a clear message to the 3,500-strong Celtic support expected at the San Siro this evening.
“It is hurting the reputation of Celtic and I get a bit sad when I hear about it,” said Deila. “As I’ve said before, we have the best fans in the world but a few have done stupid things. It is so important that it stops, so we don’t get penalties or whatever in the future and a bad reputation for the club.
“When we are like we were last Thursday at Celtic Park, everyone looks up to us, says that it is great and that we have the best fans in the world. So we need that more.
“I think 99 per cent of the fans agree with us that it is something we don’t want. We just have to get rid of the last per cent that ruins the reputation for everyone.
“If we have a discipline problem in our team, I have to take care of it. So it’s the same with the supporters, they have to take care of it from inside because it is so hard for the club to do anything about it.
“This is about our values and how we want to be seen by the rest of the world. Last Thursday was unbelievable and that is what we want every time.”
Having earned widespread plaudits for the behaviour of their fans at the Uefa Cup final in Seville in 2003 which saw them awarded both the Fifa and Uefa Fair Play awards, Celtic’s lengthening charge sheet from Europe’s governing body over the past eight years has tarnished that image. The sequence began on a visit to tonight’s venue in 2007 when two plastic bottles were thrown onto the pitch during a Champions League tie against AC Milan, prompting a minor £420 fine from Uefa.
In October the same year, Celtic were fined £25,000 for improper conduct of fans at a home game against AC Milan which saw visiting goalkeeper Dida confronted by a pitch invader. The following year, another fan entered the playing area during a Champions League tie against Manchester United and Celtic were fined £42,400.
In December 2011, a £12,700 fine was imposed for “illicit” pro-IRA chanting during a Europa League game against Rennes. That prompted Celtic fans to unveil a ‘F**k Uefa’ banner during their next Europa League tie away to Udinese, earning a £21,000 fine.
Two years ago, flares were let off during a Champions League qualifier against Cliftonville in Belfast, incurring a £4,200 penalty. Then last season, Celtic were hit with a £42,000 fine for abanner depicting IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands which was unveiled by the Green Brigade section of their support at a Champions League home tie against AC Milan.
A Celtic spokesperson said yesterday: “Clearly everyone is extremely disappointed that the behaviour of only a handful of people and in particular the use of flares, have led to a further fine from Uefa. We have repeatedly called for the use of flares to stop. We cannot and will not allow the safety of our supporters or the reputation of our great club to be compromised by the actions of a tiny minority.”
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