Beckham sees boycotters mount protest at Uefa dinner


Anti-Israel protesters breached security and infiltrated a dinner for leading football executives.

Two men and a woman gained entry to the dinner held by European governing body Uefa in central London.

Guests including Uefa president Michel Platini, David Beckham, and Sir Alex Ferguson, watched as the trio climbed on to a stage, shouted and waved a Palestinian flag.

They were demonstrating against Israel’s hosting of the Uefa under-21 tournament, which starts next week.

Guests at the Old Billingsgate Market event said it took a number of minutes before the protesters were removed by security staff. A Uefa spokeswoman confirmed three people caused a “minor disturbance” at the dinner but said they were “quickly apprehended”.

City of London Police confirmed that a man and a woman, both aged 24, had been arrested and questioned on suspicion of aggravated trespass and assault. They have been bailed while investigations continue.

Earlier that day activists from the Red Card Israeli Racism group had gathered outside the annual Uefa congress held at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair. They were joined by Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak who had previously been on hunger strike while being held for three years by Israeli authorities. He was released last July.

In a letter published in the Guardian, campaigners including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, footballer Frédéric Kanouté and film-maker Ken Loach called on Uefa to follow the example of scientistStephen Hawking and boycott Israel.

They wrote that it was “shocking” that Uefa “shows total insensitivity to the blatant and entrenched discrimination inflicted on Palestinian sportsmen and women by Israel”.

Mr Platini has repeatedly backed Israel’s right to host the competition and last year rebuked the Palestinian Football Association for lobbying against Israel.

A small Conservative Friends of Israel delegation will tour the country during the tournament. MPs Christopher Heaton-Harris and Alec Shelbrooke will be joined by a Tory councillor, and will attend sessions aimed at encouraging children to play football.

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