Abigail Klein Leichman
July 3, 2023, Updated July 5, 2023

Israel has qualified for the men’s football (soccer) competition at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games by advancing to the semifinals of the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

According to the qualification criteria, the top three ranked teams earn quotas to the upcoming Olympic Games. The other two are Spain and Ukraine.

Israel advanced to the semifinals after beating Georgia 4-3 on penalties on July 1.

Paris 2024 will mark the country’s first Olympic appearance in a football tournament since tying for fifth place at Montreal in 1976.

“We made history today,” Israel’s goalkeeper Daniel Perez told UEFA.com after the quarterfinal victory.

Israel qualifies for Olympic soccer, first time in 48 years
Israel U-21 attacking midfielder Oscar Gloukh with Player of the Match trophy. Photo by Tamara Kulumbegashvili/UEFA

“It’s not just me. It’s all the team. I don’t think Georgia had a shot on target in 120 minutes. Amazing effort from the team, amazing tactics from the coach who believes in us so much.”

The team is comprised of Jewish and Arab Israelis from across Israel.

The Israel vs. Georgia game drew 44,338 spectators, making it the most-attended UEFA U-21 final tournament match in history.

The only previous times Israel made the semifinals of a UEFA final tournament were the 1996 U-16 Euro and the 2022 U-19 Euro. In the latter competition, Israel beat France and ended as runners-up with a squad containing several members of the current U21 team, some of whom also took the FIFA U-20 World Cup bronze in Argentina last month.

On July 5, Israel’s team will face off against England in the semifinals, to be held in Batumi, Georgia.

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