Sunday, May 19, 2024

Handshake snub after ‘antisemitic’ furore erupts

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The Ireland women’s basketball team shunned normal pre-match courtesies when it faced Israel in their EuroBasket qualifying match on Friday after being outraged by accusations of antisemitism by an Israeli player.

The accusations by player Dor Saar on the Israeli Basketball Association’s official channels prompted Basketball Ireland to report them to the governing body FIBA Europe.

Forfeiting the match was rejected as Ireland would have faced sanctions for the act.

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Instead, there were no handshakes or other pleasantries before the qualifier in Riga, Latvia, an alternative venue because of the war in Gaza.

“Basketball Ireland informed FIBA Europe yesterday that as a direct result of recent comments made by Israeli players and coaching staff — including inflammatory and wholly inaccurate accusations of antisemitism, published on official Israeli federation channels — that our players will not be partaking in traditional pre-match arrangements with our upcoming opponents,” a statement on Friday morning from Basketball Ireland read.

“This includes exchanging of gifts, formal handshakes before or after the game, while our players will line up for the national anthem by our bench, rather than centre court. Basketball Ireland fully supports our players in their decision.”

While Ireland defied pressure to boycott the match — the organisation said it was not feasible despite several players having opted not to travel to Riga.

“It’s known that they are quite antisemitic and it’s no secret, and maybe that’s why a strong game is expected,” Saar, a United States-based player, said in an interview published by the Israeli Basketball Association.

“We have to show that we’re better than them and win. We talk about it among ourselves. We know they don’t love us and we will leave everything on the court always but in this game especially.”

Israel ran out eventual winners of the match 87-57.

The teams are in Group E together with France and Latvia. Ireland is scheduled to host Israel later in the year.

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