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Israel-Hamas Conflict’s Sports Impact
- Updated: October 10, 2023
Israel-Hamas Conflict’s Sports Impact
Sporting Tragedy Amidst the Israel-Hamas War: Postponed Matches and Lives in Limbo
In the tumultuous landscape of the Israel-Hamas conflict, an unexpected casualty has emerged – the world of sports. This enduring conflict, which has spanned countless years, has once again flared up, signaling a new and precarious chapter. As tensions surge between the two sides, the global community watches with bated breath as events unfold in the Gaza Strip.
Sport, an arena that often serves as a symbol of unity and respite from worldly strife, has not been spared from the far-reaching implications of this war. The Euroleague basketball league was one of the first major sporting organizations to react to the escalating situation. In an official statement, they announced the postponement of two highly anticipated games scheduled for the upcoming days.
The BKT Eurocup match pitting Hapoel Shlomo Tel Aviv against Wolves Vinius, originally slated for next Wednesday, now hangs in limbo, awaiting a rescheduled date. Similarly, the Euroleague matchup featuring Emporio Armani Milan and Maccabi Tel Aviv, set for next Thursday, has also been suspended in light of the turbulent situation in Israel.
The repercussions extend beyond mere postponements. Maccabi Tel Aviv players, foreign nationals and Israelis alike, have been evacuated to Cyprus. It began with the foreign players seeking refuge on the serene Mediterranean island, while the Israeli players anxiously await the assurance of their families’ safety before they, too, depart for Cyprus. The Euroleague is actively exploring options to enable these players to continue their careers on the court, even if it means relocating temporarily to Cyprus.
In a show of solidarity and caution, UEFA swiftly followed the Euroleague’s lead, announcing the suspension of all matches involving the Israel national team and its youth squads. The crucial qualifier for Euro 2024 between Israel and Switzerland, originally scheduled for the upcoming Thursday, now lingers in uncertainty, awaiting a new date. Similarly, the match between Israel and Kosovo, another Euro 2024 qualifier, still stands for next Sunday but remains susceptible to postponement.
The ripples extend further to include Israel’s U21 matches against Estonia and Germany, along with an U17 tournament featuring Israel, Belgium, Gibraltar, and Wales. Soccer in Israel, once a source of national pride, has undeniably taken a backseat. The Israel Football Federation officially announced the suspension of domestic competitions until further notice, leaving the football community in a state of prolonged uncertainty.
Amidst these disruptions, personal stories of despair and survival emerge. Individuals like Josep Maria Berrocal, an assistant coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Jose Rodriguez, a footballer for the same Israeli club, find themselves trapped in a war-torn country. Berrocal describes the harrowing reality, “all the big houses have a shielded and protected refuge room, which is where we sleep. If the alarm sounds, you have a minute and a half to get into the room. It is shocking to hear the missiles. It’s all very beastly.”
However, the most heart-wrenching aspect of this conflict transcends the physical turmoil; it lies in the questions that children ask. Frightened by the conflict that unfolds just a stone’s throw away from their homes, they inquire, “Daddy, will there be more shooting today? Where we go, there will be war too?” These words echo with the innocence of youth in a world marred by the horrors of war.
As the Israel-Hamas war unfolds, it leaves behind a trail of postponed games, disrupted careers, and lives forever altered. While the world watches, it is a stark reminder that even in the realm of sports, the shadows of conflict can cast a long and harrowing pall.
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By- Sahiba Suri