Belfast Telegraph

IFA could go to Sport Court over Fifa poppy punishment

by jim gracey

Aggrieved Irish FA chiefs will have three options on the table when they meet tonight to decide their response to Fifa's £12,000 fine on them for the Remembrance Day poppy display at Windsor Park.

1) They can take their dismay with Fifa to the universally recognised Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Switzerland, seeking a binding redress.

2) They can join a united front with the other home nations, rapped by Fifa on the poppy issue, to jointly fight the fines on them all with England, Scotland and Wales equally infuriated.

3) They meekly accept the punishment and carry on with their Christmas.

IFA sources have told the Belfast Telegraph that No3 is simply not an option when the association board meets tonight at Windsor Park in special session to discuss the emotive issue.

Until they have talks with the other home nations, they are not sure how Option 2 would work. Fifa rules prevent the IFA launching their own appeal .

That leaves Option 1 as the most likely course of action.

An IFA insider told us: “The association has no direct recourse with Fifa as, under their rules, a fine the size of ours and under, prevents an appeal.

“While that avenue is open to England, Scotland and Wales, who were fined above the appeal threshold, we are not sure how we can attach ourselves to a joint appeal.

“Being realistic, a small association, such as ours will never win against Fifa.

“The best we can hope for is a moral victory which makes the independent Court of Arbitration for Sport our most likely option.

“A favourable outcome would allow us to continue to make representations to Fifa with regard to their deeming the poppy a political or religious symbol which we contend it is patently not.”

Significantly, European governing body Uefa has called for a more measured approach to the controversy.

A statement said: “While Uefa does not want football matches to be used for the purposes of political demonstrations, it also would have no wish to sanction any club or national association in situations where no reasonable person could object to, or be offended by, a particular message conveyed at a football match.”

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