Basketball Ireland welcomes decision on Russia and Belarus withdrawals

Ireland’s senior women were scheduled to face Belarus away on November 24th

Basketball Ireland welcomes the decision by FIBA Europe to withdraw Russia and Belarus from international competition for the 2022/23 season.

Ireland’s senior women were scheduled to face Belarus away from home on November 24th and host them on February 12th next year at the National Basketball Arena in FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2023 qualifiers. It means Group I is reduced to three teams and Ireland’s remaining fixtures will see them face the Netherlands at the National Basketball Arena on November 27th and conclude with an away fixture against Czech Republic on February 9th.

Ireland’s Under-20 women were also due to face Russia in Group D of the FIBA European Championships in Sorpon, Hungary in July (8th-16th). Ireland’s Under-18 men’s team had been drawn with Belarus in Group A at FIBA U18 European Championships in Oradea, Romania (July 29th-August 7th), a group which also contains Ukraine.

Basketball Ireland CEO, John Feehan, said: "We wrote to FIBA earlier this month to say that we would not fulfil the upcoming FIBA Women's EuroBasket 2023 Qualifiers against Belarus in November and February, due to their support of Russia and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“Our stance was supported by the Irish government, Sport Ireland and the Basketball Ireland Board. This decision by FIBA Europe at their recent Annual Assembly is the right one and our senior women’s international team can focus on their remaining qualifiers with clarity, while our underage teams also have certainty around their respective fixtures.”

‘Important decision’

Ireland senior women's head coach, James Weldon, added: "I'd like to welcome this important decision by FIBA Europe, as basketball continues to unite in support of Ukraine. As a coach this announcement allows us, Czech Republic and the Netherlands to focus on the action on court. We have a couple of friendly internationals with Estonia in August in Dublin, followed by an invitational tournament in Portugal and those games will act as key preparation for the upcoming FIBA EuroBasket qualifiers."

Tim Rice, Chair of the Elite Performance Committee (EPC), stated: "Three of our international teams had question marks over fixtures and this now ends the uncertainty. Our head coaches James Weldon (senior women), Karl Kilbride (U20 women) and Paul Kelleher (U18 men) and their staff can now continue with their work and focus on basketball, as they seek the best possible results in their upcoming FIBA EuroBasket and FIBA Youth European Championships."

Ireland’s senior men also received a boost, as now two best second-placed teams from the First Round of FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Pre-Qualifiers will progress to the second round of Pre-Qualifying. Previously it had been just one runner-up from the three groups and group winners who advanced. Ireland are currently third in Group A, just a point behind joint-leaders Switzerland and Austria. Ireland will face Austria in Salzburg on June 30th, followed by hosting Switzerland on July 3rd at the National Basketball Arena.