The chance of holding a major world tournament in Israel for the first time has recently been made possible, after Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev held a meeting with International Basketball Federation (FIBA) President Hamane Niang on Wednesday in Jerusalem, formally asking him for the opportunity to host the 2027 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
The Malian president of the federation agreed to promote Regev's request. The two also discussed the importance of fighting violence and racism in the world of sports. Regev asked Niang to continue bridging the relationship between Israel and Mali and other African countries.
Niang and his wife are visiting Israel for the Israeli national team's match against Romania during the qualifiers for the EuroBasket Championship. The FIBA World Cup is an international basketball competition in which the senior men's national teams of the members of FIBA, the sport's global governing body, compete for worldwide acclaim. It is the federation's flagship event.Also in attendance during the meeting on Monday morning in Regev's Jerusalem office, were Basketball Association chairman Amiram Halevi and the ministry's director general, attorney Yossi Sharabi.
"We have demonstrated over the past two years our high-level professionalism in the field of production and organization of high-level sports competitions. As the Sports and Culture Minister, I encourage unions and associations to bring and host international competitions here," Regev said during the meeting.
"Our hands are outstretched to peace and we vow to host athletes from countries all around the globe, with their own flag and anthem, regardless of the diplomatic relationship between Israel and these countries," she added.
The minister invited Niang to stay in Israel again with his wife for the final four of the Champions League, with the hope and expectation that it will be held in Jerusalem in case Hapoel Jerusalem qualifies for it, or as part of the European 3X3 Championships expected to take place here in Israel.
The FIBA president presented Regev with the main principles of FIBA's policy and vision since taking office, with an emphasis on strengthening disadvantaged populations and bringing them closer to the industry, the need to promote and develop sports infrastructure in disadvantaged areas and to eliminate threats of violence and racism.
Regev congratulated Niang on his policy and support for the Israeli Basketball Association, saying that, "the sport is a major tool for connecting peoples and cultures. We must all work to preserve the existing world charter in the sports world and kick politics out of the sports fields and the basketball courts. I am sure that with your leadership, FIBA will work to eradicate instances of violence, racism and antisemitism."
The conversation was friendly and went on longer than was planned. The parties fully agreed on the shared values and challenges that the basketball industry and sports in general have in empowering disadvantaged populations, as well as sports being a tool to promote the connection between peoples "and states."