Belfast Telegraph

Fifa set to ditch its poppy ban at matches

By Staff Reporter

International football chiefs are to lift the controversial ban on wearing the commemorative poppy by the home nations.

Fifa - world football's governing body - is expected to formalise the decision following representation from the UK's four international associations.

The rescinding of the ban will enable all four UK teams to commemorate Armistice Day this year without any fear of punishment.

The move follows a year of controversy about the display of the emblem. Last November the world football governing body sparked outrage after taking disciplinary measures against Northern Ireland over the display of poppies and a minute's silence held on the Armistice Day game against Azerbaijan.

Players wore black armbands without any poppy symbol to mark the occasion.

In the aftermath, Irish FA chiefs reluctantly decided not to contest the £12,000 fine levied by Fifa over the Remembrance Day Poppy display at Windsor Park.

Instead, the sport's administrators sought an urgent meeting with Fifa bosses to press their case, arguing that the poppy is neither a political nor a religious symbol - and argue that the ban should be ditched.

Wales, England and Scotland were fined by Fifa for displaying poppy emblems at matches, with England being fined £35,000 and Scotland £15,000.

Prime Minister Theresa May hit out at what she called the "outrageous" Fifa ban, telling MPs in the House of Commons: "Our football players want to recognise and respect those who have given their lives for our safety and security.

"I think it is absolutely right that they should be able to do so."

Mrs May said there was a "clear message" from the House of Commons that "we want our players to be able to wear those poppies".

It's understood the a formal announcement of the rule change is expected to be made in time for the England v Germany match on November 10.

The new proposals will permit the wearing of poppy emblems if there is no advance objection from both the teams and the competition organiser.

The new wording tightens the definition of what is to be deemed a 'political' symbol by the football authorities.

A ban on some displays will remains, restricting:

  • Commemoration of any living or dead person.
  • Political parties or groups.
  • Discriminatory organisations.
  • Any group whose aims or actions would offend a notable number of people.
  • Any specific political act or event.

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