The Ireland women’s team shunned normal pre-match courtesies when it faced Israel in EuroBasket qualifying on Thursday after being outraged by accusations of antisemitism by an Israeli player.
The accusations by Israel player Dor Saar on the Israeli Basketball Association’s official channels prompted Basketball Ireland to report them to governing body FIBA Europe. Forfeiting the match was rejected because Ireland would have faced sanctions.
Instead, there were no handshakes or other pleasantries before the qualifier in Riga, Latvia, an alternative venue because of the war in Gaza.
“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 antisemitism, published on official Israeli federation channels — that our players will not be partaking in traditional pre-match arrangements with our upcoming opponents,” a statement read on Thursday.
“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 center court. Basketball Ireland fully supports our players in their decision.”
While Ireland defied pressure to boycott the match — the federation said it was not feasible — several players opted not to travel to Riga.
“It’s known that they are quite antisemitic and it’s no secret, and maybe that’s why a strong game is expected,” Saar, a United States-based student, said in an interview published by the Israeli Basketball Association.
“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.”
Israel won 87-57. The teams are in a group with France and Latvia. Ireland is scheduled to host Israel on November 10.
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