Amid Diplomatic Drama, the World Lacrosse Championship Kicks Off in Israel

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When the Iroquois Nationals took the field against the United States at Netanya Stadium on Thursday night—decked out in purple helmets with golden eagles on either side—they had been in Israel for about six hours and had never practiced or played as a team together.

On Wednesday afternoon the Iroquois team spent six tense hours at Toronto’s Pearson airport, unsure of whether Canadian authorities would clear them to travel to Israel. At issue was the team’s Haudenosaunee confederacy passports—Canada wasn’t convinced Israel would accept the documents, leading to a cascade of bureaucratic delays broken only through the intervention of people like Justin Trudeau and Robert Kraft. In 2010, the Iroquois team was prohibited from traveling to the world championships in England because of passport issues, and as coach Mark Burnam explained after the game, a repeat scenario might have doomed the program altogether. “If it happened again it might have ended the Iroquois national team,” said Burnam. “You just don’t know.”

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