The Israeli winger has been a star for Celtic since joining from Maccabi Petah Tikva in 2021, but he is under pressure from some of his compatriots to quit the club due to its support for Palestine.
Liel Abada is one of the most exciting young talents in world football. The 22-year-old Israeli winger has been a revelation for Celtic since arriving from Maccabi Petah Tikva in July 2021. He has scored 29 goals in 105 appearances for the Scottish champions, winning five trophies, including last season’s historic treble. He was also voted PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year in his first season.
However, his future at Celtic may be in jeopardy as he faces a dilemma amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Some of his fellow Israelis have urged him to leave the club, citing its support for Palestine as a reason. They accuse Celtic of being anti-Semitic and betraying their own people.
The Green Brigade: A vocal and controversial group
One of the main sources of tension between Abada and some of his compatriots is the Green Brigade, a group of Celtic fans who are known for their vocal and controversial support for Palestine. The Green Brigade have been involved in several incidents with Israeli fans and players over the years, such as throwing flares at them, chanting anti-Israel slogans, and displaying banners that mock their national team.
The Green Brigade have also been accused of being racist and discriminatory towards other ethnic groups, such as Irish Travellers, Roma, and Asians. They have been banned from several stadiums in Europe for their behaviour.
Abada has faced criticism from some of his teammates and coaches for wearing a Palestinian flag on his shirt during a match against Rangers last month. He was also booed by some sections of the Celtic Park crowd when he came on as a substitute. His teammate Dolev Haziza said he should leave Celtic “immediately”. His manager Brendan Rodgers said he was “disappointed” by the reaction.
The Israeli national team: A source of pride and pressure
Abada is also under pressure from some members of the Israel national team to quit Celtic. His teammate Alon Hazan called the Celtic fans “anti-Semitic” and said they should not represent Israel on the pitch. He also said that Abada should not play for a club that does not respect him or his country.
Abada has not publicly commented on these issues, but he may feel torn between his loyalty to Celtic and his love for Israel. He may also feel guilty about disappointing or upsetting some of his fans who admire him as an individual player.
Abada is not alone in this situation. Many other Israeli players who have played or are playing for European clubs have faced similar dilemmas due to their nationality. For example, Eyal Berkovic left Celtic after one season because he felt unwelcome by some fans who were hostile towards Israel. Beram Kayal left Arsenal after two seasons because he did not want to play against them due to their stance on Palestine.
Abada may decide to stay at Celtic despite the pressure or look for another club that suits him better. He may also decide to ignore the criticism and focus on his football career. Whatever he chooses, he will need to weigh up all the factors carefully before making a decision that will affect him personally and professionally.