Retired Kerry footballer and current Tralee Warriors basketballer Kieran Donaghy has appealed to Basketball Ireland to withdraw their women’s team from today’s EuroBasket 2025 qualifier versus Israel.
The Irish side are scheduled to play at the Rimi Olympic Centre, in Riga, Latvia, at 4:00pm today, but the Austin Stacks man has called on the organisation to “have a rethink and be strong.”
— Kieran Donaghy (@starryboy14) February 7, 2024
“They should withdraw the Irish women’s team from the fixture V Israel tomorrow. It’s never too late to do the right thing,” he said on social media last night.
“Fortune favours the brave. Yes FIBA are throwing us under the bus with possible sanctions and huge fines but we must make the hard call.
“It’s a shame the players and coaching staff have been put in this position.
"They have worked so hard to play at this level and represent their country and they do it with immense pride.
"This decision should not sit solely on their shoulders,” he added.
Donaghy went on the question “how the FIBA governing bodies are allowing a country committing genocide” to compete in the competition, calling it a “scandal in itself.”
He also put forward that the potential financial sanctions that would incur, which could be as much as €180,000, could possibly “be raised on a go fund me page in a few days.”
“The country would get behind our girls,” he said.
Basketball Ireland CEO John Feehan has said that a boycott by the Ireland women's team of their EuroBasket qualifier against Israel would mean a 10-year long spell in the wilderness for the sport in this country. pic.twitter.com/5uetXRd9i5
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) February 6, 2024
This comes as the Basketball Ireland CEO, John Feehan, spoke to the media in recent days and insisted the group would be going ahead with the game due to the potential of the huge fines that could be inflicted, as well as a possible five year ban.
“As we have previously stated, we’re all very concerned about events in Gaza and are extremely sympathetic to the dreadful situation that people are having to deal with,” he said, adding that “Basketball Ireland is obliged to play this fixture, because the ramifications of not doing so would be ruinous to the women’s international programme.”
Meanwhile various government officials have also had their say on the matter, in fact, An Taoiseach Leo Veradkar told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny this morning that Ireland shouldn’t “disadvantage ourselves” by boycotting the game.
“It’s one thing to expel Russia or expel Israel from certain sporting events or certain music events or contests, and I think that may well be appropriate, but for us to remove ourselves actually isn’t a good idea, in my view, because all we do is disadvantage ourselves,” he said.
Statement ahead of today's FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2025 Qualifier. pic.twitter.com/iz6s88febf
— Basketball Ireland (@BballIrl) February 8, 2024
Yesterday, there were also comments made on Israel's official channels, accusing Ireland of antisemitism.
In response to that today, Basketball Ireland have said that they informed FIBA Europe yesterday that as a direct result of those remarks, which they have referred to as "inflammatory and wholly inaccurate accusations", that their players will not be "partaking in traditional pre match arrangements with our upcoming opponents."
"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 on centre court," they added.
"Basketball Ireland full supports our players in their decision."