FIFA de­nies ‘poppy ban’

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: Foot­ball global gov­ern­ing body FIFA in­sisted yes­ter­day it was a “dis­tor­tion of the facts” to suggest they would pun­ish Bri­tish na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions de­ter­mined to mark this week­end’s World Cup qual­i­fiers with poppy tributes. Both Eng­land and Scot­land plan to defy what they be­lieve to be a FIFA ban on the wear­ing of pop­pies, a na­tional sym­bol hon­or­ing war dead, when their teams meet at Wem­b­ley yes­ter­day.

The lat­est edi­tion of in­ter­na­tional foot­ball’s old­est fix­tures takes place on Novem­ber 11 - Armistice Day in Bri­tain as it marks the an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War on Novem­ber 11, 1918. Play­ers wear­ing the poppy sym­bol on their shirts would ap­pear to con­tra­vene FIFA reg­u­la­tions for­bid­ding the dis­play of mes­sages con­sid­ered to be com­mer­cial, per­sonal, po­lit­i­cal or re­li­gious. Of­fi­cials at both Eng­land’s Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and the Scot­tish Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion have tried to find out just what sort of pun­ish­ment they could face, amid fears of fines or even points de­duc­tions.

But a FIFA spokesper­son said yes­ter­day it could only act on ac­tual events. “FIFA was re­cently con­tacted by the four Bri­tish FAs (Eng­land, Scot­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land) with spe­cific re­quests re­lated to the wear­ing of ‘poppy sym­bols’ by the play­ers dur­ing the up­com­ing FIFA World Cup qual­i­fy­ing matches,” said the spokesper­son. “FIFA’s ad­min­is­tra­tion does not have the ju­ris­dic­tion to take any such de­ci­sion. “The proper body tasked with en­sur­ing the uni­form ap­pli­ca­tion of the Laws of the Game is the in­de­pen­dent dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee.

“FIFA’s ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­vided in­for­ma­tion to the four Bri­tish FAs with­out mak­ing any judg­ments re­gard­ing their spe­cific re­quests, so the per­cep­tion that FIFA ‘banned’ any­thing is a dis­tor­tion of the facts.” The spokesper­son added: “Law Four was cre­ated by the In­ter­na­tional Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion Board (made up of the four Bri­tish FAs and FIFA) to pro­vide an equal frame­work for all mem­bers by mak­ing it clear that play­ers’ equip­ment must be free of po­lit­i­cal, re­li­gious or per­sonal slo­gans, state­ments or im­ages.” Hours be­fore the kick-off at Wem­b­ley, a wreath of pop­pies was laid on the turf.

‘Re­spect­ful’

English FA chief ex­ec­u­tive Martin Glenn said Thurs­day: “A cou­ple of weeks ago we told FIFA, in line with what he had agreed with them in 2011 (for a game with Spain) that we would wear arm­bands, not a poppy em­bed­ded in the shirt be­cause FIFA have a law of the game that you can­not use po­lit­i­cal sym­bols on shirts. “We had a row with them in 2011 and thought we had got over it. Un­for­tu­nately with the new per­son­al­i­ties com­ing in they wanted to make a bit of a stand, which is very dis­ap­point­ing.” The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion of Wales an­nounced Thurs­day they had ditched plans to go ahead with a sim­i­lar poppy trib­ute to the one planned by their English and Scot­tish coun­ter­parts dur­ing Satur­day’s World Cup qual­i­fier against Ser­bia in Cardiff amid fears of a fine or, ar­guably even worse, a points de­duc­tion by FIFA. Wales play­ers will wear black arm­bands, a tra­di­tional sym­bol of mourn­ing of­ten adopted by sports­men in var­i­ous con­texts, when they face Ser­bia. “The fact the game’s live on TV to­mor­row night, we’re stand­ing by the rule that FIFA put in place, we’ve been re­spect­ful of that and I back our de­ci­sion,” said Wales man­ager Chris Cole­man yes­ter­day.

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