Irish Soccer Players Did Not Disrespect the Israeli Anthem in Protest Against Gaza Attacks

freepik/@ jannoon028

Original article (in Albanian) was published on 5/3/2024; Author: Pustina Patris

Claim: Irish soccer players turned their backs during the Israeli anthem in a protest.

Verdict: Missing context

On February 23, 2024, the under-17 girls’ soccer teams from Ireland and Israel competed at the Air Albania Stadium in Tirana. Following the match, several Albanian-speaking portals and media outlets reported that the Irish team had “disrespected” the Israeli national anthem, linking this action to the situation in Gaza

War in Gaza: Ireland players turn their backs during Israel’s anthem at “Air Albania”
Women’s national team ignores Israeli anthem, Gaza events affect “Air Albania” stadium

The widely circulated text alleges that “the Irish national girls’ team turned their backs as soon as the Israeli anthem began to play.”

Adding to the irony, it appears that the initial misunderstanding during the Irish national anthem has originated by an Israeli journalist, Asaf Ackerman. He captured the moment the Irish team turned their backs and shared the photograph on his X account, suggesting that the gesture was a protest staged during the Israeli anthem.

Ackerman posted: “Hello @UEFA and @FIFAcom, look at the picture of the Ireland players (WomanU17) during the Israeli national anthem. on purpose standing with their back. in all of your official messages you have the word Respect writen. this isn’t Respect. hope you will do somethig with it.”

Following the spread of the rumor, the photograph in question was removed from Ackerman’s profile. However, the narrative had already gained momentum, being picked up by an Israeli public television channel and subsequently receiving widespread attention in the international media. Interestingly, several Albanian media outlets presented conflicting reports; their headlines suggested that the Irish national team had disregarded the Israeli anthem, yet the body of these articles contradicted this claim.

These conflicting reports included a statement from the Football Association of Ireland clarifying the situation: “Both teams were facing in the same direction during the Israeli national anthem before the Ireland team turned to face the tricolour, as is tradition amongst many Irish teams, for the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann (…)”

The full video of the match clearly shows that during the Israeli national anthem (from minutes 2:40 to 4:06), both teams were oriented in the same direction. It was only when the Irish national anthem began to play that the Irish team turned to face the opposite direction.”