Soccer

UEFA charges Celtic for fans' political banners

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NYON, Switzerland (AP)

UEFA charged Celtic on Wednesday with a breach of its rules on political messages after fans displayed a series of banners before a Champions League game against AC Milan.

UEFA, which prohibits political statements at matches, says the case was ''an incident of a non-sporting nature (illicit banner).'' It will be judged on Dec. 11.

Celtic fans held up images Tuesday of Scottish historical figure William ''Braveheart'' Wallace and Irish republican icon Bobby Sands, who died on hunger strike in prison in 1981.

Further banners included slogans reading: ''The terrorist or the dreamer? The savage or the brave?''

''Last night was nothing more than clear disrespect for the club and our supporters who now face another UEFA charge,'' Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said. ''There have now been a number of UEFA charges made against the club during the last three years, relating to behavior, displays and pyrotechnics - it cannot go on any further.''

Celtic traditionally draws fans from Catholic communities in Scotland and Ireland.

The match followed hours after Scottish nationalist politicians published proposals ahead of an independence referendum next year.

Lawell sees the UEFA charge as damaging for the club's reputation.

''Our supporters do not want this anymore,'' he said. ''We are a non-political organization, a top football club in fantastic shape, aiming to play its part as a major football club on the European stage.

''Regardless of the political views people hold, football stadia, whether it is Celtic Park or anywhere else, should not be used to promote these. This is something which all football authorities, including UEFA, have stressed for some time and something well known by all supporters.''

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