Fifa threatens sanctions if England & Scotland defy poppy ban


England are playing Scotland at Wembley for the first time since August 2013

England and Scotland could face a points a deduction if they defy a Fifa ban on players wearing poppies when the two teams meet on Armistice Day.

Fifa’s general secretary Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura told BBC Sport “any kind of sanction” could follow if players wore the symbol.

The world football governing body’s rules prohibit political, religious or commercial messages on shirts.

Prime Minister Theresa May has called the rule “outrageous”.

England play Scotland at Wembley on 11 November as part of the teams’ World Cup 2018 qualifying campaigns.

Separately, the Football Association of Wales has also written to Fifa requesting permission to wear poppies on armbands during their game against Serbia in Cardiff on 12 November.

When the issue arose in 2011, a compromise was reached in which players were allowed to wear armbands with the poppy symbol. The FAs of England and Scotland had asked Fifa for permission to do the same next week, but have been told that would breach the laws of the game.

banned from the sport.

“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.”

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May said the wearing of poppies was a matter for the English and Scottish football associations to resolve, but there was a “clear message” from the House of Commons that “we want our players to be able to wear those poppies”.

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Are other countries shown leniency?

Fifa has been accused of double standards after it emerged Republic of Ireland players wore a political symbol on their shirts in a friendly against Switzerland on 25 March to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.

Damian Collins MP, chairman of the Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said he had called on Fifa to “clarify the issue”.

The Easter Rising was an Irish rebellion against British rule, which lasted from 24 to 29 April 1916 and resulted in 485 deaths.

“That appears to be an absolutely classic example of leniency being shown to other countries,” Collins said.


The Republic wore the slogan in a friendly with Switzerland under the Ireland crest and above the flags of the two countries

Can Fifa still change its mind?

The International Football Association Board (Ifab) – which is made up of the four British FAs and Fifa – is responsible for formulating the laws of the game, which are then upheld by Fifa.

The Ifab meets on Thursday, where the Scottish and English FA chiefs Stewart Regan and Martin Glenn have said they will be hoping to convince officials to allow players to wear poppies. FAW chief executive Jonathan Ford will also be at the meeting.

FA chairman Greg Clarke told ITV news that England’s football governing body was “negotiating in good faith with Fifa to try and find a solution”.

“My personal opinion, and that as chair of the FA, is that of course we should wear poppies,” said Clarke. “We are commemorating millions of people who gave their lives in wars over the years. They, and the people who lost relatives, deserve that. That is our plan.

“There will be poppies at Wembley.”

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

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live’s Emma Barnett, he said: “For [Fifa] to try and brand the poppy as a political symbol shows a total misunderstanding. I think there are a number of reasons why we are already profoundly unhappy with Fifa’s behaviour and conduct and this adds to that list.”

A motion has been lodged at the Scottish Parliament calling for Fifa’s poppy ban to be scrapped.


Tuesday’s Sun led with the story

How would a points deduction affect the nations’ qualifying chances?

England are top of their 2018 World Cup qualifying group with seven points from three games, just two more than Lithuania and Slovenia. Scotland are fourth with four points.

Only the top team qualifies automatically for the finals in Russia, with the second-placed side possibly entering a play-off.

Wales are third in Group D with five points, two behind Serbia and the Republic of Ireland.

Is it the same for other sports?

By contrast, Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie has confirmed the England players will wear poppies on their shirts for the autumn Test against South Africa at Twickenham on 12 November.

The world governing body World Rugby has been “very supportive”, according to Ritchie.

“We are commemorating and remembering all people who have died in conflict. This is not a partisan thing or a political statement,” Ritchie told BBC Radio 5 live.

“This is something that is just right as an act of remembrance, and it is right to do it on the weekend when we play South Africa.”

Wales’ rugby team will also wear a commemorative poppy on their shirt in their Test match against Argentina on the same day.

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