No, Irish women's football team didn't turn away during Israeli national anthem

By: Ishita Goel
March 15 2024

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No, Irish women's football team didn't turn away during Israeli national anthem

Screenshot of social media post claiming that the Irish U-17 women's football team disrespected the Israeli national anthem. (Source: Facebook/X/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The Irish team members turned to face their flag when the Irish anthem was being played and were in the accepted position during the Israeli anthem.

Claim ID e83e1a5b

On February 8, controversy erupted when the Irish women's basketball team declined to shake hands with Israel's team during the EuroBasket qualifier. The refusal came after Israeli players had reportedly labeled their Irish counterparts antisemitic prior to the match, allegations that Ireland dismissed as "inflammatory and inaccurate."

What is the claim?

Follwing the incident, social media posts are claiming that Ireland's U-17 women's football team members turned their backs on the Israeli flag and anthem before a Euro 2024 qualifier match held between the two nations on February 23, in Tirana, Albania. The viral image shared to make this claim shows both teams standing in a line, with the Israeli players facing the camera and Ireland's team members turned away.

Multiple X (archived here) and Facebook users, including Israeli reporters Elad Simchayoff and Asaf Ackerman, reportedly posted the claim (Ackerman later posted a correction). A Facebook user from the U.K. shared the viral image and wrote, "Irish U-17 women's football team turn their backs as the Israeli national anthem plays before a Euro 2024 qualifier in Tirana, Albania. Still find it odd Israel play in the Euros whilst they occupy a land in the Middle East."

Screenshots of the viral posts on social media. (Source: X/Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)

What are the facts?

We checked the recording of the particular match streamed live on February 23 by the official YouTube channel of the Football Association of Albania. At the 2:43 timestamp, we see the Irish team facing the same side as the Israel team when Israel's anthem is being played. At the 4:07 timestamp, the Irish team members turn on the pitch to face their own flag when 'Amhrán na bhFiann' — the country's national anthem — is played. 

We also found that the Irish team followed the same tradition in a match held on February 20, between Albania and Ireland. At the 10:00 timestamp, we can see them on the pitch with their backs turned to the camera. At 11:18, they revert to their original position, and face the camera along with the Albanian team.  

Football Association of Ireland issues statement

We found multiple reports dismissing the claim, quoting an official statement by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) regarding the viral narrative. Irish Times wrote that FAI released a statement "correcting the misinterpretation" that the women's team turned their back during the opposition's national anthem. They said, "Both teams were facing in the same direction during the Israeli national anthem before the Ireland team turned to face the tricolor, as is tradition amongst many Irish teams, for the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann, the national anthem of Ireland before turning back to conclude the usual pre-match protocols."

Other news organizations like the Irish Mirror and sports website reported the same.

Logically Facts has contacted the Football Association of Ireland for a comment, and this fact-check will be updated if and when we receive a response. 

The verdict

We can confirm from the recordings and the FAI statement that the Irish U-17 women's football team didn’t have their backs turned against their Israeli counterparts while the latters national anthem played. They turned to face their flag when the national anthem of Ireland was being played as per tradition. Therefore, we have marked this claim false. 

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