The Moroccan and Israeli women’s basketball teams played a historic friendly match near Rabat yesterday. There were no spectators at the invitation-only event, in what the Times of Israel called a “quiet basketball diplomacy match”.
According to the Israel Basketball Federation (IBBA), it was the first time that Arab female players hosted the Israeli national team. The Moroccan team went on to beat Israel 62-58 in a game that was part of the North African country’s preparations ahead of upcoming Arab and African competitions, said the Royal Moroccan Basketball Federation (FRMBB).
Thank you for the warm hospitality for Israel’s 🇮🇱 women’s basketball team. Mabrouk to Morocco’s 🇲🇦 women on the win. 🇮🇱 💙 ♥️ 🇲🇦 pic.twitter.com/treS4yi2Cd
— Avi Kaner ابراهيم אבי (@AviKaner) June 16, 2022
The match was the culmination of a cooperation agreement signed on Tuesday between the basketball associations of both countries, aimed at mutually developing the sport and represents the first agreement of its kind with the IBBA and an Arab state.
The FRMBB explained that the association “aims to benefit from the pioneering experience accumulated by Israeli basketball at the level of supervision, training and financial management, in addition to benefiting from the Moroccan experience.”
“This agreement is expected to benefit the basketball family in both countries.”
נבחרת ישראל נשים וצוות איגוד הכדורסל, נחתו אמש בשעה מאוחרת במרקש לתחילתו של ביקור היסטורי.
למרות השעה המאוחרת כל ראשי האיגוד המרוקאי המתינו בשדה התעופה וקיבלו את יו”ר האיגוד עמירם הלוי בפרחים וכשהנבחרת הגיעה למלון חיכתה לה להקה מקומית בריקודים ושירים. pic.twitter.com/AA1cZzS1AK
— איגוד הכדורסל הישראלי (@TherealIBBA) June 14, 2022
OPINION: Why do Arab ‘normalisers’ never seek their people’s approval of ties with Israel?
Ahead of the deal being inked on Tuesday, the Israeli delegation was greeted at Marrakech airport with flowers and traditional Moroccan music. The agreement was chaired by the kingdom’s Minister of National Education, Preschool and Sports Chakib Benmoussa, who was quoted by the Moroccan News Agency (MAP) as stating the signing “is in the spirit of the Abraham Accords and is in line with the willingness of both countries to build the future in the context of a multidimensional cooperation.”
“Sport is an important sector for our people, insofar as it is a factor of development and well-being,” he added.
In 2020, Morocco and Israel agreed to normalise relations as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords, following the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.
READ: Morocco, Israel ink basketball cooperation agreement