Ireland Basketball Makes Bold Statement, Refuses Handshake with Israel

EuroBasket erupts! Ireland refuses handshake with Israel amid anti-Semitism claims. ✋ Game goes on, but tensions rage.
Ireland Basketball Makes Bold Statement, Refuses Handshake with Israel

The Ireland women's basketball team sparked controversy by refusing to shake hands with the Israeli team before their EuroBasket 2025 qualifier in Riga.

This decision came amidst accusations from Israeli player Dor Saar, who labeled the Irish team as "quite anti-Semitic."

Basketball Ireland swiftly rebuked Saar's remarks, denouncing them as "inflammatory and wholly inaccurate."

In an unconventional move, the Ireland players lined up for their anthem beside their team's bench rather than at the center of the court before the game commenced.

Despite their unconventional stance, Israel emerged victorious with a final score of 87-57.

Prior to the match, Basketball Ireland had indicated that the team would abstain from participating in "traditional pre-match arrangements," citing concerns over recent comments made by Israeli players and coaching staff.

This decision was communicated to Fiba Europe.

The fixture, relocated to Riga due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, faced pressure for a boycott from various quarters, including Irish Sport for Palestine.

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Despite the urging, Basketball Ireland opted to proceed with the match.

John Feehan, chief executive of Basketball Ireland, had earlier warned against boycotting the fixtures with Israel, citing potential heavy fines and expulsion from the competition.

He emphasized the detrimental impact such a boycott could have on the women's international game for the foreseeable future.

In a statement released before the game, Basketball Ireland reaffirmed its support for the players' decision, echoing their stance against Saar's accusations.

The statement highlighted the team's refusal to engage in traditional pre-match rituals and expressed full backing for the players' actions.

Saar's incendiary remarks were made in an interview on the Israeli Basketball Association's website, where she alleged that the Irish team harbored anti-Semitic sentiments.

The comments drew sharp criticism and raised tensions ahead of the match.

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza has fueled international debates and prompted actions across various sectors, including sports.

The match between Ireland and Israel serves as a microcosm of the broader geopolitical tensions at play in the region, highlighting the complex interplay between sports, politics, and identity.

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