Boycotting Israel would have “wiped out the next generation of Irish international women’s players”, Basketball Ireland has claimed.
Yesterday, the Irish women’s team played Israel in a match many people wished had never happened.
Amid ongoing concern about the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza, numerous people called upon Basketball Ireland to boycott the game.
Speaking to The Hard Shoulder, Basketball Ireland CEO John Feehan said they had asked FIBA to postpone or cancel the match but their request had been ignored.
“We basically would have faced an €80,000 fine, with a second fixture that would have gone up to €180,000,” he said.
“The most important thing at the end of the day is that we would have wiped out the next generation of Irish international women’s players.
“Frankly, I don’t think it’s worth doing that.”
Mr Feehan described the situation in Gaza as “very difficult” but questioned whether Ireland boycotting a match against Israel would have any impact.
“Ultimately, I don’t believe any gesture by us would have made any difference,” he said.
Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, FIBA banned Russia and Belarus from competing in international basketball competitions or hosting matches.
When asked whether the organisation was guilty of double standards, Mr Feehan declined to answer.
“That’s a matter you better ask FIBA [about],” he said.
“There were a number of differences between what happened in Russia and what happened in Israel.
“From my point of view, I don’t believe that they are exactly the same and I do believe that almost every Federation in Europe at the time asked FIBA not to get involved.
“We’re in a situation where we are not in that position; we’re pretty much the only Federation that has asked FIBA to make a change in this instance.”
The result of the match was 87-57 to Israel.
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Main image: Main image shows the Ireland team before their qualifier against France at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, 12-11-2023. Image: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile