Celtic’s Nir Bitton has slammed the supporters who subject him to abuse on social media for being Israeli and called on them to stop mixing politics and football.
The Ashdod-born player has had to contend with abuse from a section of the Celtic support in the past.
In 2014, Celtic fans reacted with anger when Bitton posted a copy of the Hebrew Prayer for members of the Israeli Defence Forces - with whom he completed mandatory military service prior to his football career.
A number of Celtic fans are known to be pro-Palestine and have protested against events in Gaza, particularly in European matches against sides from Israel such as Hapoel Tel-Aviv and Hapoel Be’er-Sheva.
Comments ranged from fans calling for the player to “never be allowed to pull on a Celtic shirt again” to supporters tweeting: “Your support of child killers is not wanted at [Celtic Park].”
However, many Hoops fans have offered their support to Bitton whenever he is subjected to hurtful messages, insisting that, as a Celtic player, he doesn’t deserve the abuse he receives.
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A little over a week ago, a Hoops fan sent abuse to the midfielder after he had posted a photo celebrating Israel’s win in the Eurovision Song Contest. The individual replied to Bitton’s post congratulating compatriot Netta Barzilai by writing: “F*** you! Out our club!”
Bitton shared a screenshot of the message, telling his 73,000 followers: “This boy needs some love.” He also sent a reply saying: “Haha shut the f*** up... I’ll be here till my last second of my contract.”
But after his wife began receiving abusive messages on Instagram, the Israeli international hit back at the “idiots” who insult him.
The 26-year-old wrote on Instagram: “I’m just tired of replying to idiots who insult me because I’m Israeli... so I’m not gonna reply any more!
“I’m just ashamed of the people who insult me for such a thing like that... as a father, if you guys think I support the death of children or any human being then you are nothing but idiots!!!
“I’m all up for the banter but not when you guys [are] texting my wife’s instagram... I’ve been getting abuse for a while so I just felt that I had to say that!
“Don’t mix politics and football... you are better than that!! Love you all.”