Fifa have opened disciplinary procedures against the Irish and Welsh Football Associations over the wearing of poppies by supporters in the stands, with both ready to “strongly contest” the decision.
A week after the English and Scottish FAs were charged over breaching Law 4 of Fifa’s Laws of the Game, Fifa have also opened proceedings against Wales and Northern Ireland, meaning that all four home nations are currently under investigation for wearing or displaying poppies in fixtures earlier this month.
A Fifa statement confirmed that the investigation stems from “several incidents involving the display of poppy symbols”, but the Welsh FA have issued a statement to reveal that among them includes the wearing of poppies by those in the stands at the Cardiff City Stadium during Wales’s 1-1 draw with Serbia.
A statement issued by the Football Association of Wales [FAW] read: “The Football Association of Wales (FAW) can confirm that Fifa has opened disciplinary proceedings against the FAW following the Fifa World Cup Russia qualifier against Serbia at the Cardiff City Stadium on 12 November 2016.
“The disciplinary proceedings against the FAW are in relation to incidents involving the display of poppy symbols. The incidents, as detailed in the communication from Fifa, under investigation include:
- Some supporters in the stands wearing the poppy.
- A member of the armed forces was holding a bunch of poppies at the exit of the tunnel .
- A fans mosaic depicting the poppy was displayed during the anthem of Wales.
- A banner depicting the poppy was also displayed by the supporters of wales before the match started.
Jonathan Ford, chief executive of the FAW, expressed his “disappointment and surprise” with Fifa’s decision, and added the they will look to “strongly contest the charges”.
“We also adhered to the rules and regulations of the competition and the communication from Fifa prohibiting the FAW request for the players to wear the poppy symbol on the armbands or the field of play,” the statement read.
“We are particularly disappointed that one of the charges relates to supporters in the stands wearing poppies. Naturally as an association we will strongly contest the charges.”
Neither the Northern Ireland nor Wales players wore poppies against Azerbaijan and Serbia respectively to mark Armistice Day over the fear of being fined or docked points by Fifa, but the world governing body have confirmed that they have launched disciplinary action regardless.
The statement read: "The Disciplinary Committee decided to open proceedings against the Irish Football Association and the Football Association of Wales in relation to several incidents involving the display of poppy symbols reported after the matches Northern Ireland-Azerbaijan and Wales-Serbia respectively."
Although Welsh and Northern Irish players wore black armbands only, fans displayed a poppy mosaic before kick-off, while members of the armed services appeared on the pitch in a tribute ceremony while holding poppy wreaths.
The Irish FA swiftly released a statement of its own to confirm it will “robustly defend” itself against the charges.
The Irish FA’s statement read: “The Irish Football Association will robustly defend the disciplinary charges that have been levelled against it by FIFA regarding acts of remembrance at the World Cup qualifying match between Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan on 11th November.”
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