Football poppy row: Fifa accused of double standards

The FAI is being investigated by Fifa over the Easter Rising shirt its players wore in March

The FAI is being investigated by Fifa over the Easter Rising shirt its players wore in March

Republic of Ireland shirts commemorating the anniversary of the Easter Rising have been used as an example of Fifa’s double standards when it comes to what is and is not allowed on international football shirts.

Ahead of key games for British sides on November 11, world football’s ruling body has banned poppies from being displayed on players’ shirts.

According to Fifa, teams may not display political, religious or commercial symbols on their kit. However, back in March the Republic of Ireland wore shirts with special embroidery to mark the Easter Rising during two friendlies.

Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Sports Committee, raised the issue of Fifa’s double standards.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I hope common sense prevails. Fifa has strict rules banning political, religious or commercial symbols from shirts. I think it is insulting to people in this country to say a poppy is one of those sort of symbols.

“Someone has shared with me on social media an Ireland football shirt that has a special embroidery on marking the centenary of the Easter Rising.

“Fifa allow that, so I think people will find it astonishing that the poppy’s not allowed.”

Some have suggested the Republic of Ireland were allowed to wear the shirts as both matches were friendlies, however Fifa were not able to shed any light on the situation.

When asked by the News Letter as to why the exception was made for the Republic of Ireland’s Easter Rising shirts, football’s ruling body responded by stating “that the players’ equipment should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages”.

They said the laws are applied “uniformly in the event of similar requests by any member association to commemorate similar historical events”.

Fifa did not provide an answer to the News Letter’s specific question about the contentious shirts adding they would be making no further comment at this stage.

The Irish Football Association have been in talks with Fifa to seek direction on how Northern Ireland can mark the occasion when they meet Azerbaijan in their World Cup qualifier on November 11.

An IFA spokesman said: “There will be an act of remembrance at the game on Armistice Day. We wrote to Fifa last week and are currently waiting their response as to what we are permitted to do under their game protocols.”

Meanwhile, England and Scotland meet at Wembley on Armistice Day, and the respective FAs have been in talks with Fifa about repeating an agreement reached in 2011 when specially created armbands were worn.

Theresa May has weighed into the argument, launching an attack on the footballing body as she defended the players’ rights.

She told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions: “I think the stance that has been taken by Fifa is utterly outrageous.

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

In a message to world football’s governing body, which has been plagued by corruption allegations, she said: “Before they start telling us what to do, they jolly well ought to sort their own house out.”