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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 18, 2008

Laporta salutes Hoops fans ahead of Euro clash

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has hailed Celtic fans as the best travelling supporters in the world as both clubs prepare to meet in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Catalan giants arrive in Glasgow on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's clash at Celtic Park, before the Scottish champions make the return leg in a fortnight's time.

Celtic have been working closely with Barcelona club officials, as well as the city council and the relevant authorities ahead of the match on March 4.

Rangers visited the city earlier this season and Laporta is looking forward to welcoming the other half of the Old Firm.

He said: 'The Celtic supporters are fantastic, in fact the best travelling supporters in the world, as we have seen many times. We can assure Celtic supporters that they will receive a very warm welcome when they visit the city.

'I know that Celtic supporters are extremely passionate about their club, a club which I believe, like FC Barcelona, is different.

'We know that supporters will travel in huge numbers to follow their team, but we also know the great reputation of good behaviour which Celtic fans enjoy and clearly we are looking forward to hosting the Celtic fans in the city once again.

'I know that the city council, the police, Celtic FC and FC Barcelona have been working very closely over a number of weeks to ensure that Celtic's visit will again be a great success.

'There will be special arrangements made in the city to ensure that we do all we can to ensure this is the case.

'We hope all Celtic supporters enjoy their visit to Barcelona.'

Laporta is also relishing this week's visit to the east end of Glasgow, adding: 'It will be a real pleasure to visit Celtic Park and feel the atmosphere of a great UEFA Champions League night at such a great venue.

'We have very much enjoyed our previous visits to Celtic and I am sure we will do so again. In recent years we have developed an excellent relationship with Celtic, something which we hope to continue.'

Celtic fans were awarded the official Fair Play Awards from both FIFA and UEFA in 2003 in recognition of their conduct at the UEFA Cup final, when 80,000 supporters travelled to Seville.

And Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell told www.celticfc.net: 'Once again our fans will travel to Barcelona, looking to enjoy the city, to enjoy football and to represent their club in a positive and friendly spirit.

'Our fans will be looking to support their team in a positive manner, to respect the city and at the same time make more friends as they always do when they travel.

'We are pleased that our supporters have developed a reputation for excellent behaviour when they travel to matches throughout Europe.'