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Northern Ireland poppy display subject to FIFA disciplinary action

The Irish Football Association has said it will 'robustly defend' the disciplinary charges

Published 23/11/2016

World Cup Qualifier - Northern Ireland Vs Azerbaijan at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Wreath laying and one minutes silence at the start of the match in remembrance of Armistice day. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye.
World Cup Qualifier - Northern Ireland Vs Azerbaijan at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Wreath laying and one minutes silence at the start of the match in remembrance of Armistice day. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye.
Josh Magennis and Kyle Lafferty
Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan players line up at the centre circle as the fans hold up cards to reveal a poppy as they mark Armistice Day during Friday nights World Cup Qualifier at the National Stadium at Windsor Park. Photo by William Cherry

The Irish Football Association has said it will "robustly defend" disciplinary charges being brought against it in relation to the display of poppy symbols during their recent international.

The governing body announced the move despite the Irish Football Association and the Football Association of Wales agreeing their players would not wear poppies to mark Armistice Day during their matches against Azerbaijan and Serbia respectively.

England and Scotland defied FIFA regulations by wearing armbands featuring a poppy when they met at Wembley and are already the subject of disciplinary proceedings.

Northern Ireland and Wales instead wore plain black armbands, but it seems they have still fallen foul of FIFA rule 4.4 concerning political, religious or commercial messages.

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A FIFA spokesman said: "The Disciplinary Committee decided to open proceedings against the Irish Football Association and the Football Association of Wales in relation to several incidents involving the display of poppy symbols reported after the matches Northern Ireland-Azerbaijan and Wales-Serbia respectively."

The Irish Football Association has said it will "robustly defend" the disciplinary charges.

In a statement it said: "The Irish Football Association will robustly defend the disciplinary charges that have been levelled against it by FIFA regarding acts of remembrance at the World Cup qualifying match between Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan on 11th November."

At the time IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson said his organisation was "committed to marking Armistice Day with appropriate acts of remembrance".

"We asked Fifa if permission could be granted to wear a poppy on the shirt or on an armband," he said.

"Based on law 4.4 of the laws of the game 2016/17, Fifa advised that they could give no guarantee that there would not be disciplinary proceedings if the Northern Ireland team was to wear a symbol of remembrance on the playing shirt.

"As a member of IFAB, we have placed clarification of law 4.4 on the agenda for the next annual general meeting of the International Football Association Board, which will be held in London in March."

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