Green Brigade

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Green Brigade
Founded 2006
Type Ultras group, football supporters group
Club Celtic F.C.
Location Glasgow, Scotland
Colors          

The Green Brigade are an ultras group consisting of Celtic F.C. supporters.

The group were formed in 2006 and describe themselves as a "a broad front of anti-fascist, anti-racist and anti-sectarian Celtic supporters".[1] They were situated in section 111 of Celtic Park. The Green Brigade have organised various displays at Celtic matches involving banners, flags and demonstrations which have been credited with improving the atmosphere at Celtic Park.[2] Celtic made moves to disband the group in December 2013, after a number of incidents.[3]

Green Brigade display on 13 August 2011

Controversy and Reports of Disorder[edit]

At a match against Dundee United in November 2010, there was serious disorder in the section occupied by the Green Brigade when a supporter was being ejected by stewards.[4] Supporters charged at the security guards and one was left with a bloody lip after a coin was reportedly thrown.[4]

In April 2011 at the Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen police officers attempted to remove a supporter who had set off a flare inside the stadium.[5][6] Police were unable to remove the supporter because other fans held onto him.[5] Four supporters were later held by police in connection with the incident.[5] More than 100 Green Brigade members walked out of the stadium in protest of the arrests.[5][6]

In April 2011 some members of the Green Brigade were not sent season ticket renewal forms after the club threatened to disperse the group around other sections of the stadium.[2][5]

UEFA head of communications William Gaillard, when talking about the matter in 2006, said that IRA chanting was not sectarian, and was a nationalist issue - similar to fans of other clubs, such as Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, who support nationalist movements in their own countries. He also stated that only in Balkan countries, where some fans show support for organisations that had engaged in ethnic cleansing, was the situation different because these organisations were by their nature discriminatory. He said that this did not apply to the IRA.[7]

Former Celtic manager David Hay has called for singing of IRA anthems to be banned,[8] while former Celtic manager Neil Lennon has also said that IRA chants "embarrass" the club.[9]

Poppy protest[edit]

At a match against Aberdeen in November 2010, the Green Brigade unfurled two banners with the words "Your deeds would shame all the devils in hell. Ireland Iraq Afghanistan. No bloostained poppy on our hoops.[sic]"[10][11] This protest was against the placing of the remembrance poppy on Celtic's shirt for the 11 November 2010 match against St. Mirren.

The Green Brigade cited civilian deaths caused by the Armed Forces in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Bloody Sunday, highlighting the fact that the report "confirmed that 14 unarmed civilians were murdered in Derry/Londonderry in 1972 by the Paratroop Regiment".[12]

The Glasgow Herald reported that in the weeks leading up to the incident, the Green Brigade had stepped up pro-IRA chants.[13] Celtic has been investigated by UEFA in the past for alleged sectarian behaviour, including pro-IRA chants.[14]

Palestinian Hunger Strike Solidarity Display[edit]

It was reported on the Al Jazeera website that on Celtic's last game of the 2011-12 season the Green Brigade organised a display of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. This featured a banner reading "Dignity is More Precious than Food" alongside a flurry of Palestinian flags. A spokesman for the ultras groups is reported to have stated: "We did this in solidarity, to raise awareness and because it's the right thing to do. We want Palestinians to know we are thinking about them and encourage Scottish civil society to look at the injustice in Palestine."[15]

Appreciation from Celtic Manager Neil Lennon[edit]

After this last match of the season Celtic manager Neil Lennon presented the SPL trophy to the Green Brigade by placing it in front of the section where they sit. He later said, "I just wanted to say thank you to them because they have, week in, week out, created a great atmosphere. They sing non-stop. They add colour. Sometimes they are a little bit controversial but in the main they have behaved themselves impeccably and they have changed the culture of the stadium. It’s a fun place to come for the supporters and the atmosphere in the big games has been fantastic. They are the catalyst for all of that."[16]

125th Anniversary Display[edit]

In November 2012, the Green Brigade organised a fulll stadium pre-match card display against Barcelona to celebrate Celtic's 125th anniversary.[17] The display featured a Celtic cross, green and white hoops and 125 Celtic in written form, with supporters earning the praise of club chairman Peter Lawwell.[18]

Fans Against Criminalisation Protests[edit]

On 6 April 2013, the Green Brigade took part in a demonstration comprising 3000 Celtic supporters as part of Fans Against Criminalisation, a body comprising the Green Brigade, the Celtic Trust, Celtic Supporters Association, the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters Clubs and the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs. Although the march to Celtic Park after the demonstration had not been granted permission, raising concerns about dispersal amongst police. After the event Police Scotland said they were "delighted" by the conduct of the protestors.[19] The protest was organised after a previous march that had not received council permission was broken up by police on the 16th March.[20] This initial protest had been called over supporters receiving bans and what was described as "harassment by the police". The Green Brigade announced on its website that it would be holding a "corteo to Celtic Park to raise awareness and show support for the growing list of Celtic supporters receiving and facing bans from both the Club and the PF. It is no secret the level of harassment many fans receive at the hands of Strathclyde Police nor is Celtic PLCs complicity able to be ignored. As such there is an ever growing list of fans being denied their passion of following their team."[21] Fans took to social media after the initial protest, posting pictures of mounted police and a group of supporters surrounded by police with batons being prevented from leaving the area.[21] Celtic fans felt that the initial demonstration had been improperly policed and turned out to show their support for those demonstrators.[19]

Celtic move to disband Green Brigade[edit]

Celtic made moves to disband the Green Brigade section at Parkhead after trouble at a match against Motherwell at Fir Park on 9 December 2013, where fans damaged the stadium seating and threw flares onto the pitch, causing around £10,000 worth of damage. Celtic had already issued a warning to the group after safety breaches in August 2013, and following the incident at Fir Park Celtic issued "precautionary" suspensions to 128 supporters and 250 season-ticket holders in the group's adopted section of the Celtic Park, section 111, were moved to other parts of the ground, or given the option of a refund for the rest of the season.[3]

"We will not allow the great name of Celtic to be damaged in this way – our supporters deserve more than this," said Celtic in a statement. The Green Brigade disputed the decision of the club and argued that its members were not responsible for the damage, but added it should have been more effective in self-policing.[3]

In December 2013 UEFA issued the club with a €50,000 (£42,000) fine as a result of a banner unveiled by the Green Brigade at a Champions League match against AC Milan which displayed a political message (UEFA rules prohibit the display of banners of a political or ideological nature). The banner attracted further controversy for the use of the image of Troubles-era Hunger Striker Bobby Sands, a divisive figure due to his connections with the IRA.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Roddy Forsyth (25 Nov 2010). "tbc". Telegraph. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Celtic’s warning to Green Brigade". Evening Times. 29 April 2011. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Celtic move to disband Green Brigade after £10,000 damage at Motherwell". The Guardian. 9 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Fan group Green Brigade told by Celtic they face having season tickets confiscated". Daily Record. 28 November 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Celtic's 'Green Brigade' in stand-off with police over flare at cup tie". The Scotsman. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  6. ^ a b "Cops and Celtic fans in stand-off". The Sun. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "Celtic unlikely to be hit hard by UEFA". Scotsman.com News (Johnston Publishing Ltd). 4 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "HAY: Ban these songs". The Sun. 23 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "Neil Lennon: Cut out sectarian singing". Evening Times. 18 May 2011. 
  10. ^ BBC News (8 Nov 2010). "TBD". BBC. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  11. ^ Evening Times News (9 Nov 2010). "TBD". Evening Times. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  12. ^ Visitor (9 November 2010). "Green Brigade Statement on the Poppy Protest". E-Tims Online Fanzine. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  13. ^ "Veterans anger as Celtic stage half time protest against poppies". The Glasgow Herald. 8 November 2010. 
  14. ^ "UEFA inquiry into Celtic sectarian chants". Daily Telegraph. 29 March 2011. 
  15. ^ http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/06/2012612204354413741.html
  16. ^ "Celtic boss Neil Lennon pays tribute to Hoops support as SPL party gets into full swing at Parkhead". Daily Record. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012. 
  17. ^ "Incredible pre-match display from supporters". celticfc.net (Celtic F.C.). 7 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  18. ^ "Peter Lawwell congratulates team and support on collective effort". celticfc.net (Celtic F.C.). 8 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  19. ^ a b "3000 Celtic fans protest ‘disproportionate’ Green Brigade policing". local.stv.tv (STV). 6 April 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "13 fans arrested as police break up Celtic protest". Scotland on Sunday (Johnston Publishing Ltd). 16 March 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  21. ^ a b "Thirteen arrested after protest by Celtic 'Green Brigade' fans". local.stv.tv (STV). 16 March 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013.