Anti-Israel protests overshadow volleyball defeat in Turkey

Women's team defeated 3-0 by Serbia in CEV Euro League final four.

Ankara Rally 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Ankara Rally 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Dozens of protesters scuffled with police in Ankara, Turkey, while Israel’s women’s volleyball fell to a 3-0 defeat to Serbia in the semifinals of the CEV European League final four on Saturday.
Turkey had increased security for the Israel team, with hundreds of policemen spread throughout the TVF Sport Complex to which only invited guests were allowed to enter, meaning the game was played in front of only several dozen onlookers.
The protesters carried posters of Furkan Dogan, the youngest of nine pro-Palestinian activists killed in Israel’s May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, while others pounded police shields with Palestinian flags.
Israel was taking part in the final phase of a European competition for the first time in 43 years on Saturday, but was no real match for the strong Serbs, who are ranked No. 10 in the world.
Israel, ranked just 90th in the world, began the match well, but Serbia, who won a silver medal at the 2007 European Championships, soon seized control and didn’t need long to claim a 25-20, 25-12, 25-21 victory.
National team coach Arie Selinger wasn’t too disappointed with his side’s performance, but was frustrated with the mixing of politics and sports.
“We are happy to be here and are sorry we caused the hosts such a headache, but we came for volleyball and not politics,” said Selinger, whose team will play Turkey for third place in the final four on Sunday.
“We are only ranked 90th in the world and the Serbs are in the top-ten so there is a bit of a gap between the teams. At the moment we can maybe beat Serbia’s second side. We are playing in the European League to gather confidence ahead of our European Championship qualifiers against Belarus in September.”
AP contributed to this report