Waving banners, blowing kisses, and chanting "I love Celtics" in accented English, men, women, and children at a West Bank refugee camp appeared on a video released Tuesday to thank the fans of Scottish champions Celtic soccer team for waving Palestinian flags last week at a match against an Israeli rival, and then raising $US 132,000 to pay the anticipated fine and donate to charity.
Calling the gestures "one of the biggest solidarity actions in European football history," a Palestinian community group, the Lajee Center – a cultural and sports project for children in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem – posted the video online Tuesday praising both the Celtics "Green Brigade" for waving the red, black, green and white Palestinian flags at the August 17th match in Celtics stadium against Israeli side Hapoel Be'er Sheva.
But the Celtics fans didn't stop there. Anticipating a fine from European soccer's governing body, known by the acronym UEFA, Celtic fans launched a crowdsourcing campaign with the hashtag "#matchthefineforpalestine" to raise roughly $100,000 British pounds.
If UEFA is consistent with disciplinary actions taken against the club in the past, the anticipated fine will be in the area of 15,000 British pounds. The remainder, the Green Brigade wrote on its GoFundMe page, will be distributed to Medical Aid Palestine – who deliver health and medical care to those “worse affected by conflict, occupation and displacement” – as well as to the Lajee Center for soccer equipment to start a youth league.
"The Celtic fans sent a huge message last week," said the center's international coordinator Mohammed Alazraq, who now lives in Glasgow. "It has been all over the media around the world and everyone is talking about it," said Alazraq, whose Scottish wife Nicole Currie and seven-month-old son Jawad appear in the video.
"It was one of the biggest solidarity actions in European football history, it was amazing, and we wanted to thank them for that, that's why we posted the video."
We just really want to let the fans know that what they have done is appreciated."
The Celtic crest has been beamed onto buildings in Palestine and Alazraq said the Celtics banner will be unfurled across the occupied territories again Wednesday when the East End club plays its rematch against Hapoel Be'er Sheva in Israel.
Israeli police have already threatened to arrest anyone caught displaying the Palestinian flag in the stadium.
"Police units will respond in order to ensure that the game will be a professional game and not a political one," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
In 2014, Celtic fans received a £15,000 fine from the UEFA for displaying Palestinian flags at a match.