In reaching Euro semifinals, Israel qualifies for 2024 Olympic soccer

Israel’s Under-21 soccer team punches its ticket to the European Championship quarterfinals by beating the Czech Republic, June 28, 2023. Source: Twitter.

(JNS) — Israel’s youth soccer team qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics when England beat Portugal on July 2 in the Under-21 European Championship.

The top three teams from the tournament qualify for the next Olympic Games, and Israel’s U-21 squad on July 1 secured its place in the semifinals with a penalty shootout victory over Georgia.

England is ineligible to qualify directly for the Olympics as it forms a part of Britain, which is represented at the Games by a team also comprising players from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Accordingly, 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 July 5.