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IFA won't pursue appeal over poppy fine

The Irish Football Association has ended the prospect of the home nations uniting to challenge FIFA for sanctions imposed following acts of remembrance by accepting a fine.

The IFA was fined 15,000 Swiss francs (£11,769) by world football's governing body for displays of the poppy during Northern Ireland's game with Azerbaijan on Armistice Day in Belfast.

The Football Association was fined £35,308 and the Scottish Football Association £15,692 (respectively, 45,000 and 20,000 Swiss francs) after their players wore black armbands bearing a poppy, which FIFA considers a political symbol, during the November 11 World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

The Football Association of Wales and the IFA, whose teams wore plain black armbands, earned respective punishments of £15,692 and £11,769 for displaying poppies around their stadiums.

Following a board meeting on Wednesday night, the IFA expressed its "severe disappointment" at the fine and reprimand - but has decided against challenging the punishment.

They said in a statement: "The board of the Irish FA wishes to express its severe disappointment that the FIFA disciplinary committee issued the association with a fine and a reprimand for acts of remembrance at the Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan game on Armistice Day.

"In the weeks leading up to the match on 11th November, the Irish FA had discussions with FIFA to get guidance on what was permitted within the laws of the game.

"Having followed that guidance in the delivery of the acts of remembrance at the match, it is extremely disappointing that the FIFA disciplinary committee came to the conclusions that it did.

"The Irish FA cannot appeal the 15,000 CHF fine under FIFA regulations and having discussed the options at the board meeting this evening, the association will not pursue any further legal recourse.

"However, the association will write to the President of FIFA to arrange an urgent meeting to seek clarity on this issue going forward."

The IFA could not take the matter to a FIFA appeal panel because its fine is exactly 15,000 Swiss Francs and, under FIFA's disciplinary code, it must be more than that to be contested.

The FA immediately announced it would lodge an appeal, while the SFA and FAW were understood to be waiting for FIFA's written reasons before deciding what to do.

FIFA warned the four countries before November's internationals that the display of political symbols could result in punishments - a warning which was even debated in the House of Commons.

With this in mind, both Northern Ireland and Wales did not wear poppies on armbands for their qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Serbia respectively but they were still charged because of giant poppy motifs displayed in the crowd and the laying of wreaths, which FIFA considers to be a violation of the ban on political, religious or commercial messages.

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