In Brief

Poppy row: Fifa may punish FA for The Last Post and silence

Investigation into tributes at England vs Scotland game is set to be widened, but a fine is likely

Fifa has opened disciplinary proceedings against the FA over England's Remembrance Day tributes before the World Cup qualifier against Scotland on Friday.

Both teams wore poppies embroidered onto black armbands during the match – in defiance of Fifa's rules – and will face sanctions as a result. Football's governing body could also take action against the FA over other events before the game at Wembley.

"Fifa has a strictly prescribed pre-match itinerary for international matches to which it expects national associations to adhere," says the Daily Telegraph. "Any extra activity has to have the blessing of the world governing body." 

The paper reports that the scope of the investigation is likely to be expanded and "could include other events around the match such as the minute's silence and playing of The Last Post as well as potentially the poppy T-shirts given out to the crowd and the poppy imagery on the stadium screens".

The widening of the probe "will upset England fans, who have already been shocked by the threat of a potential big-money fine", claims the Daily Mirror. 

But the paper adds that the case will be contested. "The FA are determined to fight Fifa's stance and are likely to ask for any fine to be paid to charity."

The question of what punishment will be meted out has yet to be decided. "It is understood Fifa are not considering a points deduction that could affect World Cup qualifying," says the Mirror.

However, there are "no guarantees" about what action Fifa takes, warns the Telegraph. "A points deduction is likely to cause a major diplomatic row although that sanction would be within its power."

Poppy row: Englang and Scotland to defy Fifa

3 November

England and Scotland's footballers will defy Fifa and wear black armbands with the poppy symbol when they meet on Armistice Day next week.

The FA and its Scottish counterpart are prepared to risk sanctions from football's governing body after being told that the move would contravene rules governing the use of political symbols.

Fifa's secretary general Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura told the BBC that "any kind of sanction" could be imposed if the players do sport the armbands. Possible sanctions include a points deduction that could undermine England's qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

But FA chief executive Martin Glen said the two associations were standing firm "as a point of principle". He told the BBC: "We are standing shoulder to shoulder with the other home nations on this. We all feel very strongly. It's not a political symbol and I think most people would agree with us."

The two FAs also believe that the precedent set in 2011, when England wore poppy armbands in a game against Spain, lends weight to their case, says The Guardian. 

Earlier this year, the Republic of Ireland twice wore shirts commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising without incurring action from Fifa, notes The Times. "It is understood that England and Scotland feel there is little risk of a points deduction that could affect qualification for the World Cup and they would accept a fine or reprimand," says the paper. 

The organisation's stance has been welcomed in some quarters. "Thank goodness the FA have had the strength to stand up to Fifa and ignore their ridiculous edict," says Clive Woodward in the Daily Mail.

But not everyone is impressed. The Sun, which has launched a campaign over the issue, accused the FA of being "lily-livered" and trying to "appease Fifa by saying England players will only wear tiny poppy symbols on armbands". It wants to see poppies embroidered onto the players' shirts.

For some, the whole Poppygate saga has a whiff of manufactured outrage about it. "As usual common sense has been the first casualty of this tedious row," says Owen Gibson of the Guardian. "If both teams agree and two home nations happen to be playing on Armistice Day then it is hard to see who would be offended by them wearing armbands with poppies on."

But the "outpouring of social-media outrage and tabloid pressure" sully the point of paying a personal and dignified tribute to those who gave their lives.

"The subsequent waste of energy and frothing fulmination does not reflect particularly well on any of those involved and it is hard not to conclude that silent contemplation should have remained the default state."

Poppy row: Fifa should 'sort its own hosue out' says Theresa May

2 November

Prime Minister Theresa May has attacked Fifa over its "utterly outrageous” decision to ban the English and Scottish football teams from wearing poppies during their World Cup qualifier on 11 November.

A campaign has been launched by The Sun after it reported that "out-of-touch Fifa bureaucrats are refusing to allow the players wear the poignant emblem... calling it a political symbol".

More than 250,000 people have signed a petition set up by the paper, while May threw her weight behind the protest at Prime Minister's questions.

"Our football players want to recognise and respect those who have given their lives for our safety and security,” she told the Commons. "I think it is absolutely right they should be able to do so."

The PM also had a message for football's scandal hit governing body: "I should say to Fifa before they start telling us what to do, they jolly well ought to sort their own house out," she said.

Fifa has strict rules against political, religious and commercial messages on shirts, but a compromise was reached the last time England played on Armistice Day, when the team wore black armbands with poppies embroidered on to them to meet Spain in 2011.

Politicians of all parties are calling for a similar solution this time round. "MP Damian Collins, who chairs the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, has already written to the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, asking him to reconsider the decision," reports The Guardian.

England and Scotland could face sanctions, including a points deduction, if they defy the ruling, according to some reports. However, the BBC says: "Fifa has not indicated whether a points penalty would be under consideration as a potential punishment."

Fifa poppy row as England meet Scotland on Armstice Day

1 November

A row over the Armistice Day meeting between England and Scotland is brewing after Fifa reportedly decided to ban players from wearing shirts featuring the poppy symbol.

The FA is under fire for "failing to stand up to Fifa's heartless football poppy ban", says The Sun, which has sprung into action and claims to have the backing of veterans and the Royal British Legion. The paper is calling for "bureaucrats to acknowledge the poppy as a sign of pride in the sacrifice of servicemen and women for more than a century".

However, FA chairman Greg Clarke told The Times that he was "talking to Fifa" about a compromise, which could involve black armbands such as those worn by England under similar circumstances when they played Spain in 2011.

"Fifa's rules prohibit political, religious or personal symbols being displayed on shirts but the English and Scottish FAs have pointed out that armbands with a poppy logo were permitted by the world governing body five years ago," says the paper.

Clarke told the paper that not everyone understands the significance of the poppy symbol, but said he was hoping Fifa would accept a "sensible compromise" that would allow the players to pay their respects.

Stewart Regan of the Scottish FA said the sweeping changes at Fifa over the past year "may have contributed to a lack of understanding about the issue".

England take on Scottish on Armistice Day, Friday 11 November, two days before Remembrance Sunday. Wales are in action against Serbia the following day and have also asked Fifa for permission to wear the poppy symbol.

In 2011, when a last-minute agreement to allow armbands was reached, "many players wore the poppy on their boots to show their support", says the Daily Telegraph.


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