IFA will ‘robustly defend’ Fifa poppy disciplinary charges

The poppy display at Windsor Park on November 11
The poppy display at Windsor Park on November 11

The Irish Football Association has said it will “robustly defend” the charges which Fifa have leveled against it for the acts of remembrance which took place at the National Stadium during the game against Azerbaijan.

FIFA confirmed today it would open disciplinary proceedings against Northern Ireland and Wales in relation to the display of poppy symbols during their recent internationals.

The governing body announced the move despite the IFA and Welsh FA agreeing their players would not wear poppies to mark Armistice Day during their matches.

England and Scotland defied FIFA regulations by wearing armbands featuring a poppy and are already the subject of disciplinary proceedings.

Northern Ireland and Wales instead wore plain black armbands, but it seems they have still fallen foul of Fifa concerning political, religious or commercial messages.

At the Northern Ireland match, there was a wreath laying and minute’s silence, and fans in the stands displayed a poppy emblem.

A FIFA spokesperson said its disciplinary committee had opened proceeding “in relation to several incidents involving the display of poppy symbols reported after the matches Northern Ireland-Azerbaijan and Wales-Serbia respectively”.

The IFA responded by stating it would “robustly defend the disciplinary charges that have been levelled against it by FIFA regarding acts of remembrance”.

Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs spokesman, Gary McAllister, said: “The IFA marked Armistice in an extremely dignified manner and it is absolutely disgraceful that FIFA would seek to bring these charges.

“Fifa’s lack of clarity on this matter and the subsequent disciplinary charges brought against the IFA is entirely shameful.”

The Ulster Unionist Party’s Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP, Tom Elliott, has described Fifa’s decision to open disciplinary proceedings as shameful.

He said: “Fifa should remember that if it wasn`t for the sacrifice of those who laid down their lives – particularly in World War Two – many of the countries that are members of Fifa wouldn’t even exist.”