Celtic’s lockdown retreat in Dubai sparks storm of criticism in Scotland

January 5 – Celtic have defended their decision to embark on a warm-weather training camp in Dubai in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, insisting the trip was “approved by all relevant footballing authorities” as well as the Scottish Government.

The Scottish champions went to the United Arab Emirates on Saturday after their 1-0 defeat at arch-rivals Rangers which left them 19 points behind with three games in hand.

Celtic have since posted updates from Dubai, prompting a backlash on social media as well as criticism from the Scottish Government.

Professional sport is exempt from the UK’s travel restrictions and Celtic were free to go but Scotland’s deputy First Minister John Swinney said the visit was not a “great example to set”.

“When we’re asking members of the public to take on very significant restrictions on the way in which they live their lives… we have all got to demonstrate leadership on this particular question,” he told the BBC.

And a government added: “Following the First Minister’s latest update to parliament, we would ask people not to travel internationally, across the UK or beyond their local authority unless absolutely essential.

“We would expect the SFA to look into Celtic’s trip further – while there are travel exemptions in place for elite sports which are designed to facilitate international and European competition, if we feel they are being abused, we won’t hesitate to remove this privilege.”

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