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Israel winger Abada leaves Celtic for MLS side Charlotte

Israel winger Liel Abada has moved from Celtic to Major League Soccer club Charlotte after coming under pressure from compatriots to quit the Scottish Premiership following displays of support for the Palestinian people among some fans.

The 22-year-old, who made 112 appearances for Celtic, scoring 29 goals, has signed a deal until 2026 with the MLS side for a reported fee of £8 million ($10.25 million).

Abada was out of action for about four months and when he returned he faced huge pressure in his country to end his association with Celtic, which included public comments from Israel team-mates.

Hamas carried out an unprecedented attack on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians, according to Israeli figures.

More than 30,000 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in an Israeli assault on Gaza since, according to the health ministry there.

Banners among Celtic supporters which read “Free Palestine” and “Victory to the resistance” sparked anger in Israel and criticism from former Hoops midfielder Nir Bitton.

Abada received a huge ovation when he returned from injury against Rangers on December 30 but Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said the player could not focus and admitted he could leave.

His final match turned out to be a 2-1 win over Hibernian on February 7, when he went straight down the tunnel as his colleagues celebrated a last-gasp victory.

“Leaving Celtic wasn’t in my plans, yet life’s unpredictable turns remind us that we’re not always in control,” Abada wrote on Instagram.

“The past six months have been a personal challenge, yet the overwhelming support from the gaffer, coaches and board has been my rock. Their unwavering faith during these times won’t be forgotten but cherished forever.”

Abada added: “Thank you to all the Celtic fans. Recent times were very difficult for myself and my family but I want to say thank you to all the Celtic fans that stood by me, supported and respected me as a Celtic player.”

The Scottish champions said on their website: “Everyone at Celtic thanks Liel for his great contribution to the club and we sincerely wish him the very best for the future.”

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