Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland set to wear poppy armbands in World Cup play-offs

By Gareth Hanna

Northern Ireland is awaiting permission to wear poppies on armbands in next month's World Cup qualifiers.

The IFA have, along with the English, Scottish and Welsh Football Associations, released a statement to confirm that in any year going forward, all four Home Nations intend to display poppies on armbands during matches in the week leading up to and including Remembrance Sunday.

Next month, of course, Northern Ireland face Switzerland in the World Cup play-offs at Windsor Park on Thurday November 9 and in Basel on Remembrance Sunday, November 12. The statement said that the IFA will seek permission from the opposition and FIFA before wearing poppy armbands.

The Swiss FA are already thought to have agreed and so the Irish FA are now awaiting confirmation from FIFA.

Last year, when NI hosted Azerbaijan on Friday November 11, the team wore black armbands but did not display poppies in a bid to comply with FIFA Rule 4.4, which rules that players' equipment should not carry any religious, political or commercial messages.

The IFA were fined £12,000 for other Armistice Day commemorations at the match. However, FIFA last month ruled that poppy symbols would be permitted, providing the opponents agree, and that has led to today's joint-statement from the Home Nations. The Irish FA were also keen to receive a full refund of their fine.

The statement read:

"The four football associations of the home nations (The FA, FAW, Scottish FA and Irish FA) welcome the new clarification on Law 4, issued on 26 September 2017 by The International Football Association Board (The IFAB), in close cooperation and agreement with FIFA, governing what can and cannot be worn on players’ shirts.

"It was important that clarity was brought to this issue as it affects many football matches/competitions throughout the world and is particularly helpful in relation to remembrance and poppies.

"In any year when there are international matches in the week leading up to and including Remembrance Sunday, it is the intention of all four home nations to seek permission from the opposition team and FIFA (as the authority responsible for those matches) to display the poppy on armbands."

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