England told not to wear poppies by Fifa


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The Independent Football

The Football Association have admitted that they are losing the battle with Fifa about England wearing a poppy on their shirts at Saturday's friendly international match against Spain at Wembley.

The world governing body have so far refused permission on the basis that allowing it could lead to constant requests from the other 207 member countries to commemorate various anniversaries with changes to their official kit.

An FA spokesman said: "We haven't ruled it out and we're still in dialogue but it's unlikely we'll put a poppy on the shirt."

Fifa said yesterday: "Regulations regarding players' equipment are that they should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages. Fifa understands the wish of the FA to respect and commemorate the lives of members of their armed forces, and has approved the FA's request for a minute's silence to be observed prior to kick-off."

Bodies including the Normandy Veterans Association have protested about Fifa's decision, although the Royal British Legion said they appreciate that some sporting regulations do not allow it.

The players will observe a two-minute silence while training at Wembley on Friday morning and training kit with poppies on will be auctioned for the armed forces at a later date.

Tickets will also be given to representatives of the forces as usual. The Spain game is sold out, but only 45,000 tickets have been sold for the friendly match against Sweden three days later.

The FA have confirmed that their base for the European Championship next summer will be in the Polish city of Krakow, even though all three group matches could be played in Ukraine.

The Wales manager Gary Speed has said Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale will not be told to reject the chance to play for Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ramsey, who was appointed captain by Speed, and Bale have both been photographed in a Team GB supporters' shirt and have voiced their desire to play at the Games.

Speed says the publicity shots have not angered him but he reiterated Wales's opposition to the GB team. "We are not saying to them, 'You can't play'," he said. "It's their choice, they are their own people and they make that choice."

The Football Association of Wales have objected to the British Olympic Association's use of Wales' two leading players to promote their 2012 football team.

The FAW, along with its Scottish and Northern Irish counterparts, fear that a British team threatens their independence as football nations.