Tuesday, May 28, 2024

No hands shaken after Israeli basketball player accuses Irish team of antisemitism

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No hands were shaken earlier today at FIBA Women’s Euro Basketball 2025 Qualifier after an Israeli player accused the Irish team of antisemitism.

It is understood that several members of the Irish team did not want to play in the fixtures due to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, who has been ordered to take action to prevent genocide by The International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Basketball Ireland insisted that the fixture go ahead and the match took place this afternoon. However, in a statement shared today, they said they informed FIBA Europe of recent “inflammatory” comments made by Israeli players and coaching staff. 

“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,” they wrote in a statement.

“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,” read the statement.

This comes after Israeli player, Dor Sa’ar called the Irish team “anti-Semitic.”

“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 like us and we will leave everything on the field always and in this game especially,” said the basketball player in an interview for the Israeli Basketball Federation website.

As pictures of the Israeli team posing with Israeli armed forces were shared online earlier this week, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) once again asked Basketball Ireland to cancel the game and “refuse to play against apartheid Israel, especially now as it is committing genocide in Gaza”. 

Zoë Lawlor, Cultural and Sporting Liaison with IPSC, said: “When we became aware of the fixture against Israel, we as IPFC, wrote to Basketball Ireland, asking them to respect the Palestinian boycott call and to not play the game.”

“The team not shaking hands, I understand why they did that, that’s a personal decision for the players. But the point is that the game shouldn’t have gone ahead. Basketball Ireland put the players in a terrible position by going ahead with the fixture, and as did the FIBA,” said Ms Lawlor.

“There were many grounds for Ireland’s basketball team to pull-out, but certainly once the Israeli team posed with soldiers, I think they could have made a strong case to FIBA and not had incurred the sanction from them for not playing the game,” she concluded.

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