LAUSANNE: UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Celtic and Linfield over incidents at last week’s Champions League tie, European football’s governing body announced on Monday. Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths is charged by UEFA with “provoking spectators after the end of the match”, while Linfield are in the dock over objects thrown on the pitch and a “field invasion by supporters”. Celtic are also accused of “improper conduct of the team (five cards or more)”. “This case will be dealt with by the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body on 20 July,” UEFA reported.
The second qualifying, first-leg tie won by Celtic 2-0 was held unusually on a Friday to avoid clashing with the tinderbox date in Northern Ireland of July 12 two days before. July 12 is when Protestants celebrate King William of Orange beating the deposed Catholic ruler James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. While Celtic retain a Catholic heritage, Linfield’s associations are Protestant.
Scott Sinclair and Tom Rogic scored as Celtic won the encounter in Belfast which passed off largely without major incident, but missiles were thrown at Celtic corner takers Griffiths and Jonny Hayes from a Linfield section of Windsor Park. And at the final whistle, a number of home fans attempted to access the pitch when Griffiths tied a scarf to the goal posts. One supporter did make it onto the surface but was quickly ejected as police and stewards moved in to contain the situation. Linfield are holding their own probe into coin and bottle-throwing by their fans.
Scotland international Griffiths was targeted by objects thrown from a section of the home crowd while taking a corner. The striker was booked after picking up a bottle thrown onto the pitch, a decision Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers branded as “strange” before saying he would seek further explanation from the officials.
Linfield issued a statement after the match promising to punish anyone identified as being involved. Police in Scotland are preparing for Wednesday’s return leg at Celtic Park. Superintendent Craig Smith said a “robust policing plan” had been put in place following co-operation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. He added: “Anyone who is intent in causing disorder or hate crime can expect to be arrested by police. Let’s keep this match focused on the football.”
Published in Daily Times, July 18th , 2017.