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Sports diplomacy: for the first time a Morocco-Israel basketball game

The Moroccan women’s basketball team received its Israeli counterpart in a friendly match on Wednesday, an unprecedented event that is part of the climate of sports cooperation since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries at the end of 2020.

It is the first time that the Israeli basketball team played in an Arab country, according to the Israeli Federation (IBBA). The men’s rugby team had defeated the United Arab Emirates in March 2021.

This time, the Moroccan team defeated the Israeli team by a tight score (62-58) in a match played in a gymnasium in Salé, near Rabat, before a limited number of spectators, some 200 people, invited by the local federation, stated an AFP journalist.

The two federations have signed an agreement that provides for the organization of tournaments and friendly matches in all categories, as well as the participation of Moroccan coaches in training stays in Israel.

“We are here for sport and only for sport. Our goal is to improve the level of our basketball. There will be more games in other categories,” Mustapha Aurach, president of the Moroccan federation, told AFP.

“It’s not a secret, there are many sensitive points in relations with Arab countries, but we are not politicians, we are here to play basketball,” added his Israeli counterpart Amiram Halevi.

But this cooperation agreement, described by both parties as “historic”, denotes above all “sports diplomacy” after the normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries.

isb-agr/dj/mcd

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