Israel Emerges Victorious as Irish Basketball Team Declines Handshake

In the inaugural match of the 2025 Women’s EuroBasket qualifier in Riga, an Israeli women’s basketball team triumphed over Ireland with a score of 87 to 57 on Thursday evening. However, the spirit of sportsmanship was marred by political undertones as the Irish team declined to shake hands with their Israeli counterparts.

Expressing their viewpoint on social media, the Israeli Basketball Association (IBBA) acknowledged the victory, highlighting it as an achievement “despite the lack of sportsmanship from the visiting team.”

In response to the incident, Basketball Ireland, the national governing body for basketball, issued a statement affirming their full support for the Irish players’ decision not to engage in the customary handshake.

Ireland Team Declines To Engage Or Associate With The Team From Israel

In a communication to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) on Wednesday, Basketball Ireland provided detailed information regarding their decision not to engage in the customary exchange of gifts and formal handshakes before or after the game. Additionally, they specified that the players would deviate from the conventional practice of lining up at center court during the playing of their anthem, opting instead to assemble by the bench.

The reasoning behind this decision was rooted in statements made by Israeli players and subsequently published by the Israeli Basketball Association (IBBA). The statements in question were characterized as containing “inflammatory and wholly inaccurate accusations of antisemitism.” This exchange underscores the intersection of sports and politics, with the basketball match becoming a platform where tensions and disagreements spill over beyond the realm of sportsmanship. The incident reflects the broader challenges of navigating political sensitivities and controversies in the international sports arena.

The Israeli Basketball Association (IBBA) recently published an interview featuring Dor Saar, a prominent Israeli basketball player. In this interview, Saar delved into the conduct and statements made by the Irish team, shedding light on the prevailing sentiment!

Saar expressed her views candidly, stating, “There’s a widespread understanding that they hold antisemitic beliefs, and this is no secret. It’s a known fact that influences our expectations for the game.” Her words highlight the anticipation for a competitive match against Ireland, driven by the backdrop of perceived prejudice.

Furthermore, Saar emphasized the importance of the Israeli team rising above any negativity, stating, “We understand the dynamics, and we’re prepared to showcase our resilience and determination. Despite the challenges, we’re focused on leaving everything on the court, particularly in this upcoming game.”

This commentary offers insight into the mindset of the Israeli team, highlighting their determination to excel despite potential adversities. It underscores the significance of sportsmanship and resilience in the face of perceived prejudices within the realm of international sports.

Statements Condemning Israel Issued by Ireland’s Basketball Team since October 7

Basketball Ireland issued two statements addressing its games with Israel, notably responding to social media calls for a boycott related to the October 7 War.

On January 25, the organization revealed expressing “strong concerns” to FIBA Europe about the Israel games and considering not participating. FIBA Europe responded, warning of a €100,000 fine and exclusion from the Women’s EuroBasket 2025 and 2027 Qualifiers if Ireland opted out.

Basketball Ireland acknowledged concerns about the situation in Gaza but stated it was obliged to fulfill the February 8th fixture. The Thursday game occurred in Latvia due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. Dor Saar, an Israeli player, expressed enthusiasm about representing her country amid challenging times. Since October 7th, she emphasized the importance of representing their nation with dignity and showcasing their capabilities on the field.

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