Unionists were rightly united in outrage following the decision of FIFA to open disciplinary proceedings against the Irish Football Association following the World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan on Remembrance Day.
A minute’s silence, a wreath laying and the display of a poppy mosaic in the crowd didn’t cause any offence to anyone.
Furthermore, by deciding not to display poppies on the black armbands worn by players on the night the IFA had already gone out of its way to uphold not just the letter but the spirit of FIFA’s rules.
These respectful and dignified acts led to no controversy on the night and this nonsense from FIFA should be immediately dropped.
I am disappointed, however, that our own Sports’ Minister has not yet lodged a protest with FIFA about the disciplinary action.
I tabled a question to him about this at Stormont.
My question asked specifically about a ministerial protest, but from the answer it is clear none has issued.
The IFA should of course be rigorously defending their actions but I fail to understand why the DUP’s Paul Givan should not be making his own distinct and vigorous protest in his capacity as minister.
I have asked a similar question of the first ministers but I am not holding my breath for a positive response.
The question that I tabled was as follows:
To ask the Minister for Communities whether he lodged a protest with FIFA in respect of it opening disciplinary procedures against the IFA over the display of poppies and a minute’s silence held on the Armistice Day game against Azerbaijan.
The answer I got from Mr Givan was as follows:
I am very disappointed that Football’s World Governing Body, FIFA, has taken the decision to levy charges against The Irish Football Association (IFA) regarding incidents of the act of remembrance and display of poppy symbols.
I understand that the FIFA has commenced investigations and that the IFA are due to respond to these charges. The IFA will be rigorously defending the decision it took to respectfully mark Armistice Day. I have offered my full support to the IFA should they face any sanction from FIFA in respect of this matter.
• Jim Allister is TUV leader