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Northern Ireland will not defy FIFA law over poppies in Azerbaijan game

Published 08/11/2016

Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland players will not wear poppies during Friday's game with Azerbaijan following discussions with FIFA
Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland players will not wear poppies during Friday's game with Azerbaijan following discussions with FIFA

Northern Ireland players will wear a plain black armband during Friday's World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan to mark Armistice Day.

The English and Scottish Football Associations confirmed earlier this week that their players would wear poppies during their Group F encounter on Friday, despite a FIFA ban.

The game's laws state players' equipment should not carry any commercial, personal, political or religious messages and, after talks with football's governing body, the Irish FA have decided to mark the occasion with plain armbands.

There will also be a minute's silence ahead of the Group C contest at Windsor Park, and the names of players connected with the association who died during World War One will be shown on a big screen, while there will also be a card display featuring a poppy in the West Stand.

In an IFA statement, chief executive Patrick Nelson said: "The Irish FA is committed to marking Armistice Day with appropriate acts of remembrance.

"We asked FIFA if permission could be granted for the Northern Ireland team to wear a poppy on the shirt or on an armband. 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."

Despite the risk of punishment from FIFA, both England and Scotland have planned that players will wear black armbands bearing poppies for the match at Wembley, with t he world governing body's general secretary, Fatma Samoura, insisting that no exceptions to the law will be made.

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