Football: FIFA turns down request from players to wear poppy armbands

FIFA is set to ban England and Scotland players from wearing poppies. Photo / Kevin Quigley
FIFA is set to ban England and Scotland players from wearing poppies. Photo / Kevin Quigley

FIFA has turned down a request for England and Scotland players to wear poppies on their shirts during a World Cup qualifier, the Scottish FA has said.

The two teams are being blocked from displaying the famous symbol when they meet at Wembley on Armistice Day - November 11 - because the governing body regards it as a 'political statement'.

The two countries' football associations were hopeful an agreement could be reached so that they could wear a black armband with a poppy on it.

However, SFA chief Stewart Regan says the authorities are due to turn down the request and are 'sticking to the letter of the law'.

Mr Regan told the BBC Radio 5 Live: 'I can understand why they are doing this, but it is nothing more than a mark of respect. It is a personal choice. This is not about making some political point.'

The decision has been widely criticised by current and former servicemen and women who have also hit out at the English and Scottish FA for not standing up to FIFA.

FIFA imposed a similar ban five years ago but eventually allowed England to wear poppies on black armbands in 2011 during the last international match to fall close to Remembrance Sunday.

It is understood English FA chiefs will meet with FIFA officials on Thursday to discuss the issue.

Sports minister Tracey Crouch today insisted the footballers should be able to pay tribute to fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives for Britain.

Adding her voice to the backlash, the sports minister Ms Crouch - herself a keen footballer - said: 'Footballers representing Home Nations should, if they choose, be able to wear their poppies with pride to pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of servicemen and women killed in conflict and to help support the armed forces community.

'To have our players compete with poppies on their shirts would be particularly poignant as we continue to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.'

Falklands veteran Simon Weston, who suffered severe burns during a bombing raid in the conflict, told The Sun both FAs should 'stand up and be counted'.

He said: 'Who are FIFA? A bunch of people who make a hell of a lot of money and turn round and treat people like cattle. How dare they?'

Former RAF prisoner of war John Nichol told the paper: 'I call on FIFA to allow the English and Scottish players to wear their poppy with pride on their shirts. This symbol of the courage and sacrifice of our heroes cannot and should not be shunned.'

It is understood the FA is already in talks with FIFA over commemorations for the day, aiming to stage a rendition of the Last Post along with a two-minute silence.

Bosses are believed to have lined up a trip to a war memorial for the squad picked by Gareth Southgate while poppy sellers will also be in the stands, with the occasion seen as a chance for both sets of fans to come together in unity.

An FA spokesman told The Sun it was 'working closely' with the Royal British Legion to honour former and current members of the Armed Forces.

The RBL said it saw 'no reason' why the poppy should be banned.

All teams in the Premier League are allowed to wear poppies on their shirts for matches around Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

- Daily Mail

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