Thursday, May 30, 2024

Israeli Women’s Basketball Team Defeats Ireland After Its Players Refused to Shake Hands

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Ireland’s women’s basketball team refused to shake the hands of their opponents from Israel before the EuroBasket 2025 qualifier game played Thursday in Riga, Latvia after one Israeli player accused the team of antisemitism. 

Israeli player Dor Saar said on Wednesday that the Ireland team is “quite anti-Semitic,” according to the BBC. Her comments followed calls for the Ireland team to boycott the game.

Basketball Ireland issued a statement before the start of the game announcing, “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 anti-Semitism, published on official Israeli Federation channels – that our players will not be partaking in traditional pre-match arrangements with our upcoming opponents.”

“This includes exchanging of gifts, formal handshakes before or after the game, while our players will line up for the Irish national anthem by our bench rather than center court,” the statement continued. 

“Basketball Ireland fully supports our players in their decision,” the statement concluded. 

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Author and ex-trans influencer Oli London shared a short video clip of what happened before the game. Israel’s team and coaching staff lined up across the free throw line at one end of the court, while Ireland’s players and coaches remained lined up at their bench. 

“Irish girls basketball team REFUSE to shake hands with Israeli team playing against them,” London wrote. 

Israel won the match 87-57. 

In an interview posted on the Israeli Basketball Association’s website earlier this week, Sa’ar said: “It’s known that they are quite anti-semitic and it’s no secret, and maybe that’s why a strong game is expected.”

“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 field always and in this game especially,” she continued. 

Before the game, Israel coach Sharon Drucker said Ireland “did not respect” what the game symbolizes after Irish players expressed concern about playing, the BBC reported. 

The game was moved to Riga because of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. The game was played despite the Ireland team facing pressure to boycott the game. Irish Sport for Palestine had called for the boycott over the war, the outlet reported. 

Earlier in the week, Basketball Ireland chief executive John Feehan said the Irish team would face heavy fines and expulsion from the competition if the team boycotted their fixtures with Israel, according to the BBC. 

He suggested a boycott would “destroy our women’s international game for the next 10 years.”

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