European sports league bars Israeli women’s team from showing support for hostages

At the Israeli men’s water polo competition in Zagreb team members were allowed to wear black armbands and dog tags in honor of the hostages. 

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

The European League did not allow the Israeli women’s water polo team competing in Eindhoven last week to wear dog tags and yellow armbands in support for the hostages still held in Gaza, according to a report by Yedioth Aharonth.

Israel’s Water Polo Association complained to the European Aquatics Federation and demanded a policy change.

The women members of the water polo team were compelled to remove their dog tags and armbands, although their coach, Greek native Dimitris Mavrotas, was permitted to wear a ribbon showing solidarity for the captured Israelis.

At the Israeli men’s competition an hour later in Zagreb, team members along with their coach Tal Grodman were allowed to wear black armbands and dog tags, with captain Ido Goldschmidt holding up his tag throughout the Israeli national anthem.

In the women’s competition, Israel lost to Italy 11-20.

Scoring goals for Israel were Alma Yaacobi with 4, Veronika Kordonskaia with 3, Maria Bogachenko with 2, Shunit Strugo, and Dina Namakshtansky with 1 each.

The Israeli men’s team also lost 1:22 to Serbia with Ronen Gross scoring the point for the Israeli team.

The war between Israel and Hamas has far-reaching effects extending into the world of athletic competition.

The Nation, a US publication known for its highly critical view of Israel, raised the question of whether the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should forbid Israeli athletes from competing altogether or force them to compete under a “neutral flag” which means, among other things, the winner won’t have their national anthem played when receiving their medal.

Jules Boykoff and Dave Zirin wrote an article published in The Nation in late November entitled, “Should Israel’s Flag Be Raised at the Paris Olympics?”

The article created a moral equivalency between Israel’s war with Hama and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and said,”[A] close look at how the IOC is treating Russia provides insight into what might—or perhaps even should—happen with the state of Israel.”

The prohibition didn’t ban Russian athletes per se, but denied them funding and is compelling them to compete under a neutral flag with no indication of their country, including on their uniforms.