The Irish women’s basketball team refused to shake hands with the Israeli women’s national team before the first game of the 2025 Women’s EuroBasket qualifiers in Riga, Latvia, on Thursday.
Basketball Ireland, the governing body for the sport in Ireland, said in a… statement It informed FIBA Europe on Wednesday that the team would not participate in pre-match formalities, including shaking hands with Israel before tip-off, as a direct result of recent comments made by Israeli players and coaching staff – including inflammatory and inaccurate accusations about… Launch. Anti-Semitism, published on the official Israeli Federation channels.”
“This includes exchanging gifts and formal handshakes before or after the game, while our players line up for the playing of the national anthem on the bench, rather than center court. “Basketball Ireland fully supports our players in their decision,” the statement continued.
On Wednesday, Israeli basketball player Dor Saar called the Irish team “completely anti-Semitic,” in an interview published on the Israel Basketball Association’s website.
Saar said: “It is known that they are completely anti-Semitic and this is not a secret, and perhaps that is why a strong match is expected.”
“We have to show that we are better than them and win. We talk about it among ourselves. We know that they do not like us and we will always leave everything on the field and in this match.”
Before tip-off, Ireland stood for the national anthem on the bench while Israel stood near center court. The players did not shake hands. Israel went on to defeat Ireland 87-57.
After the match, Israel coach Sharon Drucker said he had “never seen things like this before” in his life.
“I have been practicing sports for many years, and I have never seen such things in my life,” Drucker said.
“There was never a game where you didn’t make concessions, shake hands, and congratulate each other. They absolutely took a step and they got their punishment today.”
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Israel went on to defeat Ireland 87-57 on Thursday.
Sa’ar, who made her debut in Israel, added: “It’s always fun to represent the country, and certainly at a time like this. I’m happy that we won and let’s continue like this. I don’t want to get into the political issue, but it gives motivation and motivation. We shouted the national anthem and sang it.” “With pride, we need to show the whole world that we are Israel and we will remain here.”
According to Basketball Ireland, Ireland coach James Weldon said his team “showed incredible maturity in how they handled a very stressful week”.
“It was tough for all of us, but we kept it together and kept it together and all I can say is we didn’t back down there today,” Weldon continued.
Weldon said he “preferred” not to talk about what happened before the game, but said the team “did not participate in pre-game activities as a direct result of those unwarranted and unacceptable comments from the Israeli camp regarding our players.”
Weldon added: “It was very disappointing. We came here for a basketball game, we wanted to win, but we didn’t come out on the right side of the score on this occasion.”
“We had three first-time internationals in this game, and we are building a squad, so there are positives to take from this game.”
Basketball Ireland has faced calls to boycott the match against Israel but said it would be fined up to $86,000 by FIBA Europe “if they fail to complete the match against Israel, with an additional fine of $107,000 if the second leg is not played”.
Basketball Ireland could also have been removed from the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 qualifiers and subsequent qualifying campaign with the governing body describing it as an “effective five-year ban”.
CNN has reached out to FIBA and the Israel Basketball Association for comment.