Belfast Telegraph

Call for Irish FA to demand clarity on poppy issue

By Graham Luney

Fifa must clarify their rules on Remembrance Day displays to prevent another "debacle" after fines were dished out to the home nations.

That's the view of Gary McAllister, spoksperson for the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs, who now hopes that the English, Welsh and Scottish FAs fight Fifa's financial penalties.

The Irish Football Association says it wants an "urgent" meeting with Fifa after being fined £11,769 for poppies being shown at a World Cup qualifier.

The fine of 15,000 Swiss francs for the Remembrance Day displays in the match against Azerbaijan last month is below the mark allowing appeals, leaving the IFA determined to seek clarity on the rules from Fifa President Gianni Infantino.

"The Irish FA did say in the run up to the Azerbaijan game that this issue should be discussed at the International Football Association Board meeting and it's vital that discussions are held with Fifa to get clarification on this matter," said McAllister.

"Firstly we cannot have a repeat of this debacle every time there is an international match played on or around Armistice Day and, secondly, there is a contradiction here which needs to be addressed.

"In 2011 the English and Scottish FAs were given permission to wear poppies on black armbands in matches against Spain and Cyprus. Five years later the rule seems to have changed with four associations being fined for marking Armistice Day."

Northern Ireland's fans formed a poppy mosaic and also laid a wreath before the Azerbaijan game on November 11. A minute's silence also took place.

The IFA are fuming with the fine as they sought guidance on the matter with Fifa before proceeding with the tributes.

The English FA has been fined £35,308 for players wearing black armbands bearing a poppy during the World Cup qualifier against Scotland.

Scotland's governing body was fined £15,692 for a similar rule breach with the Welsh FA also handed a £15,692 penalty for wearing plain black armbands in their game against Serbia.

There is the possibility that the four associations could unite to launch an appeal and McAllister is intrigued to see how the issue plays out.

"It will be very interesting to see what the other associations do," he added. "The English FA has been of the opinion to take the matter further if Fifa imposed penalties. The Irish FA are unable to appeal the fine but speaking as a supporter I would welcome any of the nations taking the matter further and it will be interesting to see how the situation develops."

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