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Uefa charges Celtic over fan's pitch invasion

By Nick Harris

Celtic were yesterday charged by Uefa over the incident in Wednesday's Champions League match against Milan when a fan ran on to the pitch and touched Milan's goalkeeper, Dida. But, as The Independent reported yesterday, the European governing body will also investigate Dida's conduct after the goalkeeper – lightly brushed on the face by the fan – fell to the ground, simulated injury and left on a stretcher clutching an ice pack to his face.

Celtic will have to answer two charges, of lack of organisation, and of improper conduct of fans. Uefa's Control and Disciplinary Body will deal with the matter on 11 October. Celtic will certainly be handed a fine. A ground closure is possible, but given the club's fans' generally excellent record, such a measure may be suspended. A theoretical punishment of a forced replay of the match, which Celtic won 2-1, or a points deduction, are less likely. The fan, a 27-year-old labourer, Robert McHendry, from Cambuslang, near Glasgow, has been banned from all Celtic games for life.

In relation to Dida, Uefa said it "is seeking clarification from AC Milan on the reason for the substitution of their goalkeeper following Celtic's second goal." This suggests Dida's behaviour is being examined with a view to whether he tried to exploit McHendry's incursion to change a bad result for Milan.

Uefa's communications director, William Gaillard, said the decision to ask Milan about Dida was probably prompted by reports from the referee Markus Merk and the Uefa delegate Andreas Akkelides.

Celtic, top of the Scottish Premier League this morning on goal difference, return to action tomorrow when they face Gretna at the latter's borrowed home, Fir Park. Second-placed Rangers host unbeaten Hibernian, in third place just a point adrift, in this afternoon's big match.

Irish Independent


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