Israel and Celtic defender Nir Bitton tests positive for Covid-19

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Israel and Celtic defender Nir Bitton tests positive for Covid-19

Club has third player contracting the virus forcing them to self-isolate ahead of a major clash against rivals Rangers

Israel's Nir Bitton warming up before the UEFA Nations League Group F match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. (Andrew Milligan - PA Wire/PA Images )
Israel's Nir Bitton warming up before the UEFA Nations League Group F match at Hampden Park, Glasgow. (Andrew Milligan - PA Wire/PA Images )

Israel and Celtic footballer Nir Bitton gas tested positive while away with his national side.

The defender is the third Celtic player to have been instructed to self-isolate while on international duty and the club have vowed to hold talks with national team associations in a bid to minimise the risk of further blows.

Bitton will join Ryan Christie in self-isolating for next weekend’s derby clash with Rangers after the Scotland midfielder was identified as a close contact of his international and former Hoops team-mate Stuart Armstrong, who tested positive this week. Celtic could also be without Odsonne Edouard for next Saturday’s Parkhead clash after the striker tested positive while on France Under-21 duty.

Bitton featured against Scotland in the Euro 2020 play-offs on Thursday despite Celtic manager Neil Lennon claiming an ankle injury would have made it impossible for him to play.

Celtic confirmed Bitton had returned a positive test on Friday, ahead of Israel’s home Nations League clash with the Czech Republic, who themselves initially travelled with only nine players following another outbreak in their camp.

The Scottish champions said in a statement: “Clearly, recent events during this international period are very concerning and frustrating.

“We have worked tirelessly to ensure a safe and secure working environment and since testing has begun our players and medical staff have done a brilliant job in very difficult circumstances.

“Although we will never be complacent, throughout our own club testing programme, our squad has returned around 2,000 individual negative tests since the outbreak of the pandemic, with not one positive test.

“The current situation has presented huge challenges for all within football and wider society which we do not underestimate in any way.

“While we apportion no blame whatsoever to anyone, this is now a very difficult position for us and, clearly, for all other clubs. Like all other clubs, we must do all we can to protect our squad and limit the very clear and obvious risks to players.

“Under FIFA regulations, clubs are obliged to release players for international duty.

“We will be maintaining close contact with international associations in order to ensure everything possible is being done with regards to the care and protection of our players. The priority must be the safety of our players at all times.

“For clarification, all members of the Celtic squad who continue to train at Lennoxtown during this period have again ALL returned negative tests yesterday (Friday).”

The statement added: “We send our sincere best wishes to Nir and any other players or staff affected within the Israel squad. We are in constant dialogue with Nir and look forward to him returning safely to the Celtic squad as soon as possible.”

Speaking at Hampden late on Thursday night, Bitton had smiled and said he would be in “big trouble” with Lennon if he was not fit to face Rangers.

“Obviously Rangers is a big game but I’m not thinking about Rangers right now,” he said.

“I don’t know if I will travel with the team for the next two games, it is a decision to be made by the coach and the medical staff.

“I gave everything to take part in this game, this is a game that really was my target.

“I didn’t really think about the Czech Republic or Slovakia, I only thought about Scotland. So I don’t know what is going to happen, we will see.”

Celtic have another player, Hatem Abd Elhamed, in the Israel squad.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: