Monday, May 20, 2024

Irish women’s basketball team refuses handshake with Israel | More sports News – Times of India

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Ireland’s women’s basketball team refused to shake hands with the Israel players at their EuroBasket 2025 qualifier in Riga on Thursday.
Prior to the game, the Israeli Basketball Association published an interview with player Dor Saar in which she made allegations about antisemitism in the Ireland team.
“It’s known that they are quite antisemitic, and it’s no secret,” Saar said.”Maybe that’s why a strong game is expected.”
Basketball Ireland reacted with a statement prior to the match, calling the comments “inflammatory and wholly inaccurate” and indicated that the team would not participate in “traditional pre-match arrangements,” such as the exchange of gifts or formal handshakes. The team also lined up for the national anthem by their bench rather than center-court.
The Irish association has also reported Saar’s comments to basketball’s governing body FIBA and added it “fully supports our players in their decision.”
Calls for a boycott
The match, which was moved to Riga because of the ongoing war in Gaza, went ahead despite growing calls for Ireland to boycott.
Ireland was the first European Union member state to declare that a solution to the conflict in the Middle East had to be based on a fully sovereign Palestinian state, independent of and coexisting with Israel. Ireland’s minister for sport, Thomas Byrne, said that the government couldn’t intervene in the controversy and that it was up to the world governing body whether the game went ahead or not.
In the lead-up to the contest, Israel coach Sharon Drucker criticized Ireland, stating they “did not respect” what the game symbolizes. Calls for a boycott only intensified after the Israeli team shared photos from a practice session days before the game that included a visit by soldiers from the Israeli Defence Force. FIBA has promised to look at those images and find out if they “contravene our values.”
While Ireland did not boycott — the federation said the team would face heavy fines and expulsion from the competition if they did — several players opted not to travel. Former women’s international Rebecca O’Keefe told radio show “Lunchtime Live” a boycott would send a “strong message of solidarity” to Palestinians and that the players had been put “in an awful position.”

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