Abada latest: “Family is more important than football,” Brendan Rodgers

It’s a situation that Brendan Rodgers today noted doesn’t get dealt with in a football manager’s coaching courses as he discussed the complex and very difficult situation both Liel Abada and his employers, Celtic Football Club currently find themselves in.

Abada was left out of the squad for the weekend visit to St Mirren in the Scottish Cup after struggling to cope with playing for the club in the previous match at Easter Road. Abada is under pressure from his homeland because he plays for Celtic and the Celtic support,  largely down to the Green Brigade, are world famous for their support of the Palestinian cause. that for the benefit of doubt is no bad thing in the eyes of the wider support.

3rd February 2024 Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen, Scotland Scottish Premiership Football, Aberdeen versus Celtic Liel Abada of Celtic on the ball. Photo ActionPlus Vagelis Georgariou

That is not to say that Liel Abada or the other Israelis to have played for Celtic, including Nir Button who spent almost a decade at Celtic Park, have ever received any negativity from the support due to their nationality or religion. Far from it, in Abada’s case he came back in the recent match agains theRangers, after a three month lay-off due to an injury, ironically enough, picked up while in International duty with Israel, and was given a stadium wide ovation from the Celtic support inside Celtic Park.

The same thing happened post winter break in the Scottish Cup tie against Buckie Thistle when Liel Abada was substituted. But that won’t matter to those pressurising Abada from his homeland as Celtic are seem as the bad guys for being pro-Palestinian. The Israeli trolls might win this one but where does Abada go from here if he leaves Celtic, and will they decide if that club is suitable? Will they select a country that he can or cannot play in?

The Celtic manager admitted that ultimately a move is now a possibility. It would seem however to be more of an inevitability and as Rodgers kept saying, Abada is a very young man at just 22 years of age and has this complex situation to deal with. “Family is more important than football,” Rodgers noted and that certainly indicates that football rightly will be the loser in this one.

“I’m really empathetic towards the issue that he has. It’s more than football, it’s at a human level. I have to respect that. He’s training, he’s working away, but this period is all about the mind. And if you’re not quite ready, I can’t take any risk. I have to protect the player firstly, because he’s important, and the squad as well.

Celtic v Buckie Thistle – Liel Abada attempts a shot on goal during the Scottish Cup match at Celtic Park on Sunday January 21, 2024. Photo Andrew Milligan

“People can talk about what’s going on there and then they can forget about it. This is a reality for him, this is his life. Every day, every night, his family is in war. It’s a really tough situation for him. On a human level, I have real, real empathy. It’s my job and we will look after him. When he’s ready, if he ever is ready, he’ll be there to give us everything.”

The Celtic manager was asked if Abada might need to move on, either on loan or permanently, given the perception of the Celtic support in Israel. “It’s a possibility. But we’ll work together and we’ll see.”

Tomorrow the Green Brigade will lead the stadium in a rendition of the beautiful Irish ballad Grace, in tribute of the besieged Palestinian people. We know what the song will be but not what any banners might say, or how many Palestinian flags will be flown. These same flags are actually seen all around the world as so many people seek to register their protest at what is happening to the Palestinian people at the hands of the overwhelming strength of the Israeli military instructed by the hardline Israeli government.

Celtic v Buckie Thistle – Liel Abada in action during the Scottish Cup match at Celtic Park on Sunday January 21, 2024. Photo Andrew Milligan

But, for the avoidance of doubt,  no Celtic supporter holds the actions of the Israeli Government and its military against Liel Abada. That has never been the case and it never will. Inevitably tension will be high back home so if for his own personal situation Liel Abada has to leave Celtic then he will go with the best wishes of the Celtic support. But there will be no apologies forthcoming for the support that the wider Celtic support – not just the Green Brigade – has shown towards the people of Palestine.

Celtic have a title to win. We are uncomfortable writing about this and it’s an additional strain on the Celtic manager having to deal with it, but he is doing that very well indeed. The main focus now must be the game and the football from here on in as we seek to retain our status as the Champions of Scotland.

Here’s Brendan Rodgers’ media conference ahead of the almost overlooked crucial match against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park tomorrow afternoon…

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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