Celtic fans raise £24,000 in charity bid to match UEFA fine

Celtic fans have raised nearly £25,000 in under 24 hours as part of a bid to match a UEFA fine for waving Palestinian flags at the recent Champions League play-off clash with Israeli side Hapoel Beer-Sheva.

Celtic fans pictured with Palestinian flags outside Parkhead before the match with Hapoel Beer-Sheva. Picture: John Devlin

And big-hearted fans from other clubs, including Rangers and Benfica, as well as non-football fans, have also contributed to the cause.

The appeal, set up by the Green Brigade under the headline #MatchTheFineforPalestine, was initially set up to raise £15,000 but the target has since doubled after a glut of donations in the first seven hours saw more than £14,000 contributed.

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A message on the site brands the decision by UEFA to fine Celtic over the flag display as ‘petty and politically partisan.’

The message continues: “We are determined to make a positive contribution to the game and today launch a campaign to #matchthefineforpalestine.

“We aim to raise £15,000 which will be split 50/50 between Medical Aid Palestine (MAP) and to the Lajee Centre, a Palestinian creative cultural children’s centre in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem.

Part of the money raised will go towards setting up a football team at the Lajee Centre, with the aim of entering the team in the Bethlehem Youth League.

Centre co-ordinator Salah Ajarma has suggested that the team will be named ‘Aida Celtic’ to recognise the support of Celtic fans.

Ajarm added: “It will mean so much to our young people to be part of an official team, to have boots and strips and to represent the camp wearing the colours of our friends. Aida Celtic will be a source of pride for all in Aida.”

Celtic will likely learn how much the club has been fined on September 22. The previous fine the club received for fans waving Palestinian flags at a match was £15,000 - hence the initial target of the appeal.