‘Nonsense Fifa probe must end’

The minute's silence during November 11's game at The National Stadium. 
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

The minute's silence during November 11's game at The National Stadium. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

The TUV have led calls for the Executive to take a stand against Fifa’s decision to investigate the IFA’s recent “respectful acts of remembrance”.

Fifa confirmed on Wednesday they would be investigating “the display of poppy symbols” at Northern Ireland’s game against Azerbaijan on November 11.

The IFA have said they will robustly defend their acts of commemoration.

TUV leader Jim Allister said: “All that took place at the match was a minute’s silence, a wreath laying and the display of a poppy mosaic in the crowd.

“These respectful and dignified acts led to no controversy on the night. This nonsense from Fifa should be immediately dropped.”

Mr Allister has tabled a motion to allow the Assembly to express its feelings on the matter.

He has also asked the communities minister to lodge a protest with Fifa about their actions.

The TUV leader added: “It is ironic indeed that Fifa – an organisation which is a global byword for corruption – should seek to bring charges against the home nations for remembering the sacrifices in two world wars.

“Had those wars not been fought there would not have been international teams to compete in the matches.”

DUP MP Gregory Campbell told the Nolan Show: “Fifa support the ‘Say no to racism’ idea.

“It could be argued that that is a humanitarian statement that shouldn’t have any place on the football pitch.

“The anti-racism campaign isn’t a political issue and neither is the poppy.”

He believed the four football associations should invite senior Fifa people to games next November in the United Kingdom to see that the poppy is not a political symbol.

The UUP’s Tom Elliott said Fifa’s investigation “demonstrates a huge degree of insensitivity”.