Ireland women’s basketball, playing in a 2025 EuroBasket qualifier on Thursday, refused to shake hands with Israel before the game after one Israeli basketball player accused the team of antisemitism.
Basketball Ireland released a statement before the game announcing that it had informed FIBA Europe that the team would not shake hands with Israel before or after the game, and they would not share center court with their opponents during the national anthems.
“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 anti-Semitism, published on official Israeli Federation channels – that our players will not be partaking in traditional pre-match arrangements with our upcoming opponents,” the statement read.
“This includes exchanging of gifts, formal handshakes before or after the game, while our players will line up for the Irish national anthem by our bench rather than centre court. Basketball Ireland fully supports our players in their decision.”
The snub followed comments made by Dor Sa’ar, who made her debut with the national team on Thursday, which were published in an article by the Israeli Basketball Association earlier this week.
“It’s known that they are quite antisemitic and it’s no secret, and maybe that’s why a strong game is expected,” her comments read.
“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.”
Sa’ar’s comments followed calls for Ireland to boycott the game. According to the BBC, Basketball Ireland CEO John Feehan said the team was told that they would be hit with massive fines if they boycotted the game.
“I’m pretty sure we’d be hit pretty hard because we did actually ask was there an alternative to playing this game and all the rest of it, and from that perspective there isn’t,” he said.
Israel won the match 87-57.