Israel will still host football championship, say Uefa

Uefa is standing firm on its decision to have Israel host the upcoming European Under-21 football championship, even as anti-Israel activists organise their biggest push yet to derail plans.

Campaigners calling for the football governing body to move the tournament intend to hold a public demonstration in London on May 24, to coincide with Uefa’s annual conference, which is also being held in the capital.

Supporters of the campaign include Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and the group Football Beyond Borders, which published an article this week claiming that “the time has come for Uefa to decide if it is an organisation standing for ‘zero tolerance for any form of racism and discrimination’, or is complicit in the systematic persecution of a people”.

A petition urging Uefa president Michel Platini to reconsider has now attracted 6,443 supporters, while 24 British MPs, including Liberal Democrat David Ward, have backed an Early Day Motion calling for Uefa to hold the tournament elsewhere.

But a Uefa spokesman said no change was on the cards. “We have no plans to change the venue, despite the demonstration,” he said.

Last updated: 4:45pm, March 14 2013