Basketball Ireland is fully cognisant of the public and media interest surrounding the upcoming FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers game between Ireland and Israel. Naturally this fixture was always going to provide a focal point for debate around the conflict in the region; and any decision made either way by Basketball Ireland would receive criticism from certain quarters.
We are all very concerned about the events unfolding in Gaza and are extremely sympathetic to the dreadful situation that people are having to deal with. Since the conflict arose, Basketball Ireland has been in regular correspondence with FIBA Europe, where we have raised strong concerns about these fixtures with Israel, including the option to not play the games, however FIBA Europe is insistent that we fulfil the fixtures, the first of which will be in a neutral venue in Riga, Latvia, on February 8th.
Basketball Ireland would be subject to a fine from FIBA Europe of up to €80,000 should we fail to fulfil the fixture with Israel in Riga next month. An additional fine of up to €100,000 would also be levied should we not play the return fixture later this year. Basketball Ireland would also be removed from FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 Qualifiers and also barred from competing in the FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2027 Qualifiers, resulting in an effective 5-year ban from competing at international level for our senior women’s team.
It is true that Basketball Ireland previously supported the expulsion of Russia and Belarus from competing in European basketball - we had been asked by FIBA Europe to write to them to do so. As an International Federation, FIBA Europe wished to have support from individual Federations prior to their official announcement.
Basketball Ireland has listened to and understands everyone’s views around this fixture with Israel, including those of our players, staff, the basketball community and external bodies and a decision to play has been carefully considered. We have also been in correspondence with the Department for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Government Ministers and Sport Ireland around this fixture.
As it stands, FIBA Europe has not excluded Israel from competing internationally - nor have any other European sporting federations - and as such Basketball Ireland remains obliged to fulfil the fixture on February 8th.
Basketball Ireland will be making no further comment at this time.