LONDON - Scottish trade unions called on supporters of Celtic to wave Palestinian flags at their Europa League home match yesterday against Israel's Hapoel Tel Aviv, in "solidarity with suffering Palestinians."

But the Glasgow club, whose fans often wave Irish flags because of their historic ties with Ireland and the Roman Catholic community, urged their supporters to ignore the call.

While some pro-Palestinian protesters could be seen outside Celtic's stadium before the game, no more than a handful could be spotted inside once spectators were admitted.

"We hope that Celtic fans will join with us in a demonstration of support for a just and lasting peace in Israel/Palestine based on a secure Palestinian homeland living side by side with Israel," Dave Moxham, deputy secretary general of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, said in a statement.

Celtic, struggling in the Europa League, said it was "extremely concerned" by the call for demonstrations and said its stadium was "no place for a political demonstration."

While Celtic insists it has always been a club that welcomes fans regardless of gender, age, race, religion, politics or ability, most of its supporters come from Glasgow's large Catholic community. The city's other big club, Rangers, has traditionally drawn its support from Protestants, and games between the two sides have often been the scene of sectarian rivalry mirroring the struggles between the communities in Northern Ireland.

UEFA, European soccer's governing body, was not immediately available for comment.