Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Report due on any sanctions over Ireland-Israel match

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FIBA has said it will wait on a commissioner report before deciding if any disciplinary action will be taken in the wake of Ireland’s EuroBasket 2025 Qualifier against Israel on Thursday.

The game was played after a tense and controversial build-up.

Having resisted widespread calls to boycott the fixture, Basketball Ireland were incensed by comments made by Israeli player Dor Sa’ar accusing the Irish of “anti-Semitism”. Basketball Ireland branded the accusation “inflammatory and wholly innaccurate“.

Israeli coach Sharon Drucker had earlier said the Irish “did not respect” what sport symbolises after he and his players had posed for pictures with armed Israeli soldiers at the weekend.

Ireland refused to partake in the traditional pre-match handshake with their Israeli opponents, who won the match 87-57 in Riga, Latvia.

Basketball Ireland had requested the game take place at a neutral venue. It was initially supposed to be played last November, but was postponed due to security concerns caused by the ongoing conflict in the region.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Executive Director Europe of FIBA, Kamil Novak was asked about Israel’s decision to have a team photo taken with armed forces.

“I would not like to go into politics,” he said. “We are not a political organisation, we are a sporting organisation. In terms of the photos, there were some let’s say events before the game which we are aware of.

“The photographs with the machine guns, this is certainly something that can be questioned. On the other hand, we had the EuroBasket Women 2023 in Israel. I’m talking about June 2023 so way before all the incidents which happened later in Israel. Even during this championship we saw some girls with machine guns because they are in Israel, the girls too have to serve and do military service.”

“If there is any action to be taken we will certainly do so.”

After it was suggested to Novak that the political climate has changed significantly since last summer, he said: “Of course to see machine guns on the photographs is not what we wish so for all this we have our, I would call it protocols. We will of course now see and evaluate and if there is any action to be taken we will certainly do so.”

When asked about potential punishment for the the Israeli player who levelled the accusation of ant-Semitism, and to Israel for posing with armed forces, Novak added: “Everything will be evaluated and if there is any action to be taken it will certainly be done.

“Everything starts with the report of the commissioner. The game was just played yesterday. I watched the first half, I didn’t see anything on the court.

“We will look at whatever is reported in the report of the commissioner of the game, of the technical delegate and then we will see. We were informed by both [teams] what they planned to do before the game, so we are waiting on the report of the game. It will take a few days. Then we will see what is in the report and then we will if any action needs to be taken.”

On whether Ireland would have faced a potential ban if they had boycotted the game, he responded: “We are a very transparent organisation. You can see our regulations and rules. Everything is covered in the regulations.”

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