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Controversy over UEFA tie

Griffiths facing ban for provoking Linfield fans

Leigh Griffiths
Leigh Griffiths: facing ban (SNS Group)

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths is facing disciplinary action after being accused of provoking Linfield supporters at the end of last week’s Champions League qualifying tie.

Griffiths was controversially booked for delaying a corner while picking up bottles which had been thrown on to the Windsor Park pitch.

At the final whistle he tied a Celtic scarf to a goalpost.

UEFA is now looking into his actions alongside the behaviour of Linfield supporters who not only pelted the Celtic player with bottles and coins, they also tried to invade the pitch.

The date of the game, which Celtic won 2-0, had been moved to avoid clashing with Orange Order parades on 12 July.

Griffiths was booked by Spanish referee Alejandro Hernandez, apparently for time wasting, as he avoided the objects thrown on the pitch while trying to take a 64th-minute corner. He picked up a glass bottle and took it to the referee who showed him a yellow card.
Griffiths tied a scarf to a post in front of the stand Linfield reserved for about 300 Celtic supporters who managed to buy tickets despite their club refusing their allocation.

The Scottish international and former Hibernian player did the same thing at Ibrox.

One Linfield fan ran on to the pitch before being apprehended while others threw missiles and clashed with police and stewards. Officers with riot gear and dogs lined up in front of the section from where the missiles had earlier been thrown.

Griffiths’ yellow card was one of five which Celtic received and the UEFA charge confirms that it will not be revoked.

Teams are automatically charged with “improper conduct” when they receive five or more bookings in a European game. Jozo Simunovic, Scott Brown, Tom Rogic and Stuart Armstrong were also cautioned.

All charges will be dealt with by UEFA’s control, ethics and disciplinary body on 20 July.

The regulations on player misconduct state that Griffiths can expect a suspension of one match or longer if he is found guilty.

A statement from Linfield states: “The club will be reviewing our own footage and investigating an incident that took place during the match where a number of objects were thrown on to the pitch. We are obviously very disappointed that a small number of people chose not to respect the club’s wishes.

“Linfield FC strongly condemns these actions and will be taking all necessary steps to identify any individual who was engaged in this activity. The club takes the safety of fans, players and officials extremely seriously and there will be serious and lasting consequences for anyone involved.”

The teams meet for the second leg at Celtic Park on Wednesday.


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