In an excellent show of sportsmanship, Ireland Lacrosse bowed out in order to give the Iroquois Nationals, the originators of the sport, a shot at The World Games.
Ireland's lacrosse team has officially withdrawn from The World Games 2022 in order for the Iroquois Nationals, a Native American team, to take their place. The move has been called a great show of sportsmanship, but the Irish team simply believes it was the right thing to do. The decision was prompted after eight teams were selected to participate based on where each team finished in the 2018 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship. Even though Ireland finished 12th and the Iroquois Nationals third, the former team was selected to play as the latter does not "represent a sovereign nation", according to the International World Games Association (IWGA). The board expressed its willingness to reverse course if a place could be found for the team, so Ireland Lacrosse rose to the occasion, CNN reports.
The IWGA announced its U-turn on the matter in August, after it earlier argued that the Iroquois Nationals did not represent a sovereign nation and did not have an Olympic Committee. Though the committee's formal statement recognized the Iroquois, or Haudenosaunee as they are also known, people as the originators of the game, they called on other teams to make space for the Native American team. Therefore, Ireland stepped up to the plate last week. Michael Kennedy, chief executive officer of Ireland Lacrosse, said in a statement, "It's simply the right thing to do. We are a proud member of World Lacrosse and we recognize the importance of The World Games to the continued growth of our sport. As much as our players would have been honored to compete, we know the right thing is for the Iroquois Nationals to represent our sport on this international stage."
In response, the Iroquois Nationals tweeted to thank the Irish team. "You have gone above and beyond not only for us, but for what you believe is right," they wrote. "Your actions have spoken louder than words showing everyone the true power of sport, and the spirit of lacrosse. We will never forget that." The move has, of course, been highly praised by fans of the sport. One Twitter user (who was clearly from the United States) asked, "Why does Ireland treat the indigenous better than we do?"
The unwavering bond between the Irish and Native Americans dates back centuries; During the Irish potato famine, for example, the Choctaw Nation sent $170 (worth $5,000 today) of relief aid to the Irish people, despite facing difficulties themselves. This favor was returned earlier this year when the Irish helped indigenous communities battle the pandemic.
Pretty amazing to be honest!!— Ireland Lacrosse (@IrelandLacrosse) September 7, 2020
We are excited that our friends @IRQ_Nationals are into the World Games, and that we can go back to being popular around St. Patrick’s Day 😂
The Native American lacrosse team represents the Iroquois Confederacy. This is a confederacy which comprises the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora tribes. It dates back hundreds of years. The Iroquois Nationals are presently the only team that has been authorized to play a sport internationally. They have been competing internationally ever since the year 1990. The World Games, originally scheduled to take place in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2021, was pushed back to July 2022 due to the ongoing global health crisis. The tournament features more than 30 "unique, multi-disciplinary sports" held every four years, the year after the Summer Olympic Games.
What a stunning move from Ireland Lacrosse to bow out of the World Games & give their place to the Iroquois Nationals (who were left out because they were not recognized as being from a sovereign nation even though they invented the game.) Love this, what a kind show of allyship. https://t.co/O8lt1f1P8C— Sára 🍞 (@akihsara) September 3, 2020