Irish basketball players to boycott women's European qualifier against Israel

With less than two weeks remaining until the Eurobasket qualifiers match, some Irish players are refusing to play against Israel, with the Irish basketball association saying they're forced to do so by FIBA

Ynet |
Five players from the Irish women's national basketball team have announced their decision to boycott the upcoming European Championship qualifier against Israel, the Irish Times newspaper is reporting. The players cited the ongoing war in Gaza as the reason behind their boycott. They are scheduled to play in less than two weeks in Riga.
Rebecca O'Keefe, a former player, has called on other athletes to follow their lead and criticized the Irish union for allowing such a situation to arise.
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The upcoming Eurobasket qualifying campaign, which includes the first game in the competition for Israel's national team, has sparked significant controversy in Ireland in recent days. The previous group of games, including one against Ireland, was postponed due to the outbreak of the war in Gaza. The Irish association, according to O'Keefe, allegedly made efforts to prevent the matches against Israel from taking place.
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נבחרת הנשים
נבחרת הנשים
Israeli women's team
(Photo: Greek association)
The Irish Basketball Association recently made an announcement stating that players will not face fines or suspensions if they choose to boycott the game. Additionally, the association released an official statement claiming that FIBA has "forced" them to play against Israel. The statement further outlined that a fine of 100,000 euros would be imposed if the team fails to participate in the second game, scheduled for November in Dublin. Moreover, the team would face suspension from the EuroBasket 2025 qualifiers and the EuroBasket 2027 qualifiers.
"We have taken into account the opinions expressed by the players, team members, and the entire basketball community in Ireland, and we understand their concerns," the association added. "We have thoroughly considered whether to participate in the games against Israel and have also engaged in discussions with government ministries. However, given the current circumstances, FIBA Europe has declined to support a boycott of Israel, therefore we are obliged to participate in the game on February 8."
Israel's women's team is proceeding with their regular preparations for the game against Ireland, which will take place in the capital of Latvia. It is worth noting that the Israeli Basketball Association had previously approached the Irish Association in an attempt to switch home teams, but their request was declined.
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גילי אייזנר
גילי אייזנר
Ready to play Ireland in Riga
"We are disappointed that the Irish did not show solidarity and did not adhere to the spirit of sportsmanship, unlike many other associations and teams across Europe," the basketball association said last month in a statement. "We extend our gratitude to FIBA Europe for their support, as well as to the Latvian association for hosting the women's team. They have been demonstrating their exemplary hospitality for over a year and a half, hosting the Ukrainian national teams, which reflects their exceptional character."
Israel has been placed in Group 5 of the European Championship qualifiers alongside France, Latvia and Ireland. In November 2024, the team is scheduled to play two away games against France and Ireland. In February 2025, they will host Latvia and France. The team that finishes first in this group, along with the four best runners-up from the eight groups, will qualify for the European Championship. The championship is set to take place in the summer of 2025 and will be hosted in four countries: the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany and Greece, which will also serve as the host for the knockout round games.
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