Israel’s Under-21 footballers qualify for Paris Olympics thanks to England win

It is the first time an Israeli football team has made the Olympics since 1976


KUTAISI, GEORGIA - JUNE 22: Israel's players cheer goalkeeper Daniel Peretz of Israel for saving the penalty during the UEFA Under-21 Euro 2023 match between Germany and Israel on June 22, 2023 in Kutaisi, Georgia. (Photo by Giorgi Ebanoidze/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

(JNS) Israel’s U21 football team has qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics after England beat Portugal on Sunday in the Under-21 European Championship.

The top three teams from the tournament qualify for the next Olympic Games. Israel's U-21 squad on Saturday secured its place in the semifinals with a penalty shootout victory over Georgia.

England is ineligible to qualify directly for the Olympics as English players compete for Team GB with athletes from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

As a result, the other three semifinalists at the Under-21 Euros will head to Paris next year.

Teams at the Olympics next summer will be restricted to under-23 players (born on or after Jan. 1, 2001), with a maximum of three overage players allowed.

It is the first time an Israeli soccer team will participate in the Olympics since the 1976 Games in Montreal.

Prior to this year, Israel had not had much success in major international tournaments, since moving regionally in the 1970s from Asia to Europe to avoid boycotts from Arab countries.

However, the current run at the Euros follows the Israeli Under-21 team's historic achievement last month at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Argentina, where the team finished in third place.

Israel will now face England in the Euro semifinals on Wednesday.

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