Belfast Telegraph

Former Northern Ireland star Tommy Wright slams Fifa's stance over poppies

By Adrian Rutherford

Former Northern Ireland star Tommy Wright has told Fifa to "get a reality check" after blasting its policy on poppies.

Officials at world football's governing body have warned the Football Associations of England and Scotland that they risk punishment if they carry Armistice Day tributes when the two nations clash at Wembley next Friday - November 11.

They are expected to deliver a similar message to the Irish Football Association.

Northern Ireland play Azerbaijan in a World Cup qualifier in Belfast on the same night.

Fifa rules prohibit players carrying commercial, political or religious messages on their kit .

But Wright - a former Northern Ireland goalkeeper - backed Prime Minister Theresa May, who dubbed their stance "utterly outrageous".

"I think Fifa at times should get a reality check in what they do," he said.

"To class a poppy as a political statement when it is remembrance about people who have died and people who have given their lives up for us to have the liberties and freedom we have.

"I think the Prime Minister probably summed it up as well as what a lot of people are thinking.

"I certainly feel that they should be allowed to wear their poppy on their shirt. I don't see why that would offend anybody.

"Fifa are basically a law unto themselves at times and I think they have missed a trick really. There probably wouldn't be a Fifa if it wasn't for all the sacrifices made down through history and not only in this country as well.

"I will certainly be wearing my poppy and I am pleased that the SFA and the English FA have made that stance."

The English and Scottish FAs have announced they will don black armbands bearing the poppy symbol for the game at Wembley. The Irish FA is expected to take a similar approach.

IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson had talks with Fifa officials this week. An IFA source told the Belfast Telegraph: "We do not anticipate the response being any different to England and Scotland."

A period of silence is planned before kick-off against Azerbaijan next Friday night.

The Republic of Ireland wore a special jersey against Switzerland and Slovakia in March, marking the centenary of the Easter Rising. These were friendly games and not subject to the same rules.

Former Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale MP said the England team should wear poppies - even if a points deduction is possible.

Belfast Telegraph


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