Fifa reject England's poppy request


Fifa have rejected the Football Association's renewed plea for England players to be allowed to have embroidered poppies on their shirts on Saturday.

The FA had made a special request to FIFA for permission for the poppies to support Remembrance Day.

The world body have now issued a "final statement" rejecting the plea.

A letter from FIFA to the FA sent today said: "We regret to inform you that accepting such initiatives would open the door to similar initiatives from all over the world, jeopardising the neutrality of football. Therefore, we confirm herewith that the suggested embroidery on the match shirt cannot be authorised.

"There are a variety of options where The FA can continue supporting the cause of Remembrance. One of them already was approved by FIFA, the Period of Silence."

Earlier, Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce added his voice to calls for the world governing body to permit England's players to wear poppies on their shirts against Spain at Wembley.

Boyce, from Northern Ireland, said common sense should prevail.

Boyce told Press Association Sport: "Personally I think there has to be a bit of common sense used when requests like this come in.

"Armistice Day is a very important day in the FA calendar, as it is with other associations, and I don't think it would offend anybody to have a poppy on the shirts.

"I am not involved in the decision and I do understand there have to be rules.

"But as this is a special request from a member of FIFA and is not of a political nature I believe that common sense should prevail and that it should be looked at in a different light."

FIFA have allowed a minute's silence to be held before the sell-out game, for the England players to wear poppies on their training kit at Wembley on Friday, and to stand for the traditional two minutes' silence to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month on Friday.

FIFA's rules prevent anything of a political nature being worn on shirts and although the organisation does not regard poppies as political, they are concerned it would open the door to countries wanting to wear various different emblems on their shirts, some of which would be overtly political.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson also wrote to FIFA today urging them to re-think for both the England game and Wales' match against Norway.

Robertson's letter said: "We fully understand, and respect, FIFA's rules on its member nations not adorning their shirts with 'commercial', 'political', or 'religious' symbols or messages. The FA and FAW do not intend to contravene these rules.

"However, the British public feel very strongly about this issue which is seen as an act of national remembrance to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of their country. It is not religious or political in any way."