LONDON: Veteran anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has joined veteran footballer Frederic Kanoute and filmmaker Ken Loach in urging European football’s governing body to reconsider staging its under-21 finals in Israel next month.

In a letter published in The Guardian they and 18 other prominent figures draw a contrast between UEFA’s resolve at its recent congress to punish racism in football and its “total insensitivity to the blatant and entrenched discrimination inflicted on Palestinian sportsmen and women by Israel.”

Publication of the letter follows protests outside UEFA congress in London last Friday by, among others, former detainee and hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak and comedian Alexei Sayle. A protest petition was handed over.

On Friday evening a group of activists gate-crashed the UEFA congress dinner hosted by the English Football Association. Two were arrested but have since been released.

After congress UEFA president Michel Platini expressed his sympathy for the plight of Palestinian athletes and officials.

He insisted, however, that Israel had the same rights in terms of event hosting as all the other 53 national association members of UEFA.