Nir Bitton also missed Celtic European trip for religious reasons

By John McGinley

September 16, 2021

Versatile Celtic defender and midfielder Nir Bitton is also included on tonight’s absentee list for the trip to face Real Betis in the UEFA Europa League.

As widely discussed yesterday, Callum McGregor, Liel Abada, James Forrest and Giorgos Giakoumakis are all absent for the occasion.

However, speaking to the written press after his broadcast media conference, manager Ange Postecoglou also confirmed that Bitton didn’t make the trip.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

That’s due to Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, which is also the reason Abada didn’t travel to Spain.

Postecoglou fully understands their situation and confirmed that the club knew about the absences as soon as the fixtures were lodged on the calendar.

Speaking to The Scotsman, the Bhoys boss said: “It’s their religion, and rightly so. It’s a day where you’re not allowed to participate in events, a day of reflection for them.

“Celtic are a very important team for us” | Real Betis fan Enrique Roldán

“Celtic are a very important team for us” | Real Betis fan Enrique Roldán

“It’s not the first time it’s happened in my career, where a player’s religious beliefs have meant that football doesn’t take the priority we all think it should maybe sometimes in life.

“That’s the case for Liel and Niro tomorrow night and we’re very respectful of that.”

There can be no judgment of Abada and Bitton of course, and this isn’t a situation unique to Celtic.

In fact, the Israeli teams competing in the Conference league moved their fixtures from today to Tuesday due to the holy day.

Photo by Denis Doyle – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Nevertheless, tonight’s team is certainly going to be interesting. Ange still has options in every position, but barely.

We could see players such as Josip Juranovic played out of position, the first start for Ismaila Soro in over a year and youngsters such as Adam Montgomery trusted with the big European assignment.

All eyes will be on the manager’s team announcement later this afternoon.

In other news, Celtic B Team embroiled in SFA and Lowland League row.