Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland team won't sport poppies for World Cup clash

By Rebecca Black

The Northern Ireland football team will not display poppies during their World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan at Windsor Park on Friday.

Instead, the players will mark Armistice Day by wearing black armbands.

The decision was announced following negotiations between the Irish FA and Fifa.

A minute's silence will be held before kick-off, names of players connected with the association who died during the First World War will be shown on the big screen, and there will be a card display featuring a poppy in the West Stand.

The Royal British Legion will collect inside the ground for this year's Poppy Appeal and a wreath will be laid. There will also be a feature in the match-day programme on four international players who fought and died during the war.

The move comes after Fifa ruled the English and Scottish teams could not wear poppies during their qualifying clash on Friday. Both have said they will ignore the ruling. Fifa bans political, religious or commercial messages on shirts. IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson said his organisation was "committed to marking Armistice Day with appropriate acts of remembrance".

"We asked Fifa if permission could be granted to wear a poppy on the shirt or on an armband," he said. "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."

Belfast Telegraph


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