On 24th October, Celtic hosted SS Lazio in the UEFA Europa League. Playing in Glasgow but with roots in Ireland, Celtic is an immigrant club. Fleeing famine and colonial oppression, a group of immigrants founded Celtic Football Club to feed the starving children of a community which had found a new home in Glasgow.
The Celtic story is a unique and beautiful one. However it is one entrenched in adversity and its ultimate success is all the more powerful given the sectarianism and racism that the club – and the people it represents – had to overcome. Sadly, in 2019, intolerance towards immigrants is still a familiar tale across Europe. All too often this manifests itself in football stadiums and for too long it has gone unchallenged.
Hailing from the Italian capital, our Laziale guests are no strangers to the modern day refugee crisis with Italy currently holding over 170,000 refugees. Far from being tolerant, Lazio fans are instead renowned for their extreme-right views which were witnessed both on the streets and in the stands last Thursday.
The Celtic response to this was modest but unequivocal: fuck off Lazio.
Celtic proudly proclaims to be a club like no other and with such claims comes responsibility. We must have the confidence to stand by the ethos which we were born from. Equally, we must stand against morals that are the antithesis to our existence. In short, fascism has no place in Celtic Park or beyond.
Perhaps not surprisingly, UEFA – an organisation whose inaction against racism has only served to encourage it – have since charged Celtic for the response of its fans. In 2016, we found ourselves in a similar position and harnessed UEFA’s pettiness into a vehicle for good.
In 2019, our aim is the same. We ask all Celtic fans, fans of all clubs and none, to continue to oppose racism and fascism. We invite you to support our appeal to once again undermine the impending and unjust UEFA fine. In doing so, we will not only promote tolerance and inclusion but provide much needed practical support to the below two charities with projects in Rome and Glasgow.
Since 2015, Baobab Experience have supported more than 85,000 asylum seekers in Rome. They offer food, clothing and accommodation services to ensure that people's most basic needs are fulfilled. They also provide legal assistance and physical and mental healthcare.
Closer to home, Scottish Action for Refugees is a charity that supports refugees in Scotland as well as coordinates international efforts. Specifically in Glasgow, they have created a SAFR Space which is a community hub offering help and support for refugees and asylum seekers with the practical aspects of setting up a new life in a strange country.