The rivalry between Glasgow soccer giants Celtic United and Rangers is among the fiercest in all of world soccer. That’s because, in addition to the intercity aspect, the rivalry has a religious dimension – Celtic is the Catholic team; Rangers is for Protestants.
I’ve always tilted towards Celtic; not for religious reasons but because for a few years I occasionally watched Celtic matches with members of a club of Celtic supporters. The club consisted mostly of dour Scotsmen, made all the more dour by the fact that Rangers were in the process of winning nine straight championships.
Now I have a new reason to support to Celtic. Last week Celtic played the Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv in Glasgow. Before the match, as Evelyn Gordon reports, the Scottish Trade Unions Congress urged Celtic fans to wave Palestinian flags during the match in “solidarity with suffering Palestinians.”
The club responded by issuing a statement that its stadium is “no place for a political demonstration,” and urging fans to ignore STUC’s call. According to Reuters, the Celtic fans did just that and the “protest” fizzled.
Meanwhile, at Goodison Park yesterday, the Everton faithful were chanting “USA, USA” at the end of the 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. This was not a political statement, but rather a tribute to Everton’s American goalkeeper Tim Howard, who preserved the hard-earned draw by saving a penalty kick by Spurs hotshot and England national team forward, Jermaine Defoe.
Plagued by injuries all year, Everton faced a crisis against Spurs when it was forced to play two right backs as central defenders and hand the right back position to Premier League debutant Seamus Coleman. Spurs duly took a two goal lead and seemed to be coasting to victory with 13 minutes left.
Then, young Coleman set up a goal by Louis Saha and contributed to another (with five minutes left) by Tim Cahill. But the comeback would have been for naught without Howard’s heroics.
Hats off to Howard and to Celtic.
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