Fifa is taking action against the England and Scotland teams for wearing poppies during the World Cup qualifier on Armistice Day. The teams met at Wembley on 11 November, the day when the war dead are traditionally remembered in the UK. Players from both sides decided to go against guidelines from football’s governing body and chose to wear black armbands featuring embroidered poppies. Fifa has a ban on shirts carrying political, religious or commercial messages. The Football Association (FA) and the Scottish Football Association now face disciplinary action, which could result in a fine or even a World Cup points deduction. Both teams would be able to appeal against any action. ‘Disciplinary proceedings have been opened’ “We can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened on this matter,” a spokesman for Fifa said. “We cannot comment further at this stage nor speculate on any outcome or provide an estimated timeline.” The FA has previously said it will contest any fine. Martin Glenn, the chief executive of the FA, said he believed the team’s legal and moral positions were “right”. “Our case is absolutely rock solid,” he said. Nationwide debate Both England and Scotland requested permission from Fifa to wear the armbands featuring poppies ahead of the game last Friday. But the request was turned down, despite the fact armbands were permitted for England’s friendly with Spain on 12 November 2011. The refusal sparked a debate across the nation, with politicians weighing in. Prime Minister Theresa May said: “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 they should be able to do so. Damian Collins, chair of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, asked Fifa to reconsider its decision. The Royal British Legion urged Fifa to rethink the ban “in the strongest terms”.
Not before time, FIFA is set to back down and lift its ban on British national teams displaying the poppy symbols on shirts and armbands to honour the war dead of World War 1 and all conflicts since.
In what must surely rank as one of its most nonsensical decisions, FIFA imposed fines on the four British associations last year saying the wearing of poppies contravened regulations that that players’ equipment should not carry any “political, religious or commercial” slogans.
Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s new secretary general, said at the time: “Britain is not the only country that has been suffering from the result of war.” British prime minister Theresa May responded by calling the ruling “utterly outrageous”.
But the ban is now reportedly to be lifted FIFA in time for England’s friendly with Germany on November 10, the evening before Armistice Day. There was widespread incredulity when FIFA fined England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for their use of the poppy symbol 10 months ago. England and Scotland wore the emblem on black armbands during a World Cup qualifier at Wembley whilst Wales and Northern Ireland were fined for fans displaying it in their stadiums. FIFA’s relaxation of the rules reportedly states in new guidelines that “Whilst ‘religious’ and ‘personal’ are relatively easily defined, ‘political’ is less clear”. The new wording of FIFA’s law tightens the definition of what is deemed a ‘political’ symbol as follows:
the commemoration of any living or dead person political parties or groups any local or national government discriminatory organisations any group whose aims / actions would offend a notable number of people any specific political act / event The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the game’s lawmakers, is expected to approve the amendment in early October