Ireland Women’s Basketball Team Responds to Accusations of Antisemitism in EuroBasket Qualifier Against Israel

The Ireland women's basketball team responds to accusations of antisemitism during their EuroBasket qualifier against Israel, shunning pre-match courtesies in protest.

Amidst controversy surrounding accusations of antisemitism, the Ireland women’s basketball team took a stand during their EuroBasket qualifying match against Israel. The team shunned traditional pre-match courtesies, including handshakes and gift exchanges, as a response to inflammatory remarks made by Israeli player Dor Saar and coaching staff.

The accusations of antisemitism, made on official Israeli Basketball Association channels, prompted Basketball Ireland to report the matter to governing body FIBA Europe. However, forfeiting the match was not considered feasible due to potential sanctions against Ireland.

Instead, the Irish team opted to refrain from participating in customary pre-match rituals, such as exchanging gifts and formal handshakes. They also positioned themselves for the national anthem near their bench, rather than at center court, as a symbol of protest against the alleged antisemitic comments.

While Ireland chose not to boycott the match entirely, some players decided not to travel to Riga for the qualifier. The decision came after Saar, a player for Israel, made remarks suggesting that the Irish team harbored antisemitic sentiments. Saar’s comments, coupled with the ongoing tensions, intensified the atmosphere surrounding the match.

Despite the controversy, Israel emerged victorious with a scoreline of 87-57. The teams are part of a group that also includes France and Latvia, with Ireland scheduled to host Israel in a return fixture on November 10.

The incident highlights the intersection of sports and politics, underscoring the importance of addressing discrimination and fostering inclusivity within the sporting community. Basketball Ireland’s stance in supporting its players’ decision to protest against alleged antisemitism reflects a broader commitment to combatting intolerance in sports.

As the EuroBasket qualifiers continue, the incident serves as a reminder of the need for mutual respect and sportsmanship, regardless of political tensions or differences in opinion.

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