‘Out of touch’ Fifa slammed for disparity in fines over poppy and Easter Rising badge

The poppy display by supporters during the game between Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan on Friday November 11
The poppy display by supporters during the game between Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan on Friday November 11

Fifa fines handed out for the display of political symbols by neighbouring football associations demonstrated a “complete disparity” by an “out of touch” governing body.

The IFA was hit with a fine of 15,000 Swiss francs (the equivalent of £11,700) for breaking ‘poppy rules’ on November 11, while its counterparts in the Republic of Ireland were fined a third of that amount for its Easter Rising shirts.

The Republic of Irelands Easter Rising commemorative badge which was worn on March 25

The Republic of Irelands Easter Rising commemorative badge which was worn on March 25

MP Gregory Campbell slammed Fifa for getting involved in the first place then creating a hierarchy of symbols.

According to Fifa, England were fined 45,000 Swiss francs for several incidents in the framework of the England v Scotland match, including the display by the host association, the English team and spectators of a political symbol and several cases of spectator misconduct.

Scotland, as the visiting association, were fined 20,000 Swiss francs for the display of the same political symbol and cases of misconduct committed by its own group of spectators.

Wales received a fine of 20,000 Swiss francs and Northern Ireland 15,000 Swiss francs in relation to several incidents, including the display of political symbols in the context of the Wales v Serbia and Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan matches.

In each case Fifa classed the poppy as political symbol.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland was fined 5,000 Swiss francs for the display of a political symbol (Easter Rising logo) on their shirts during a friendly match against Switzerland on March 25.

Fifa said its disciplinary committee took the decisions after analysing all of the specific circumstances of each case.

Claudio Sulser, chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee, said: “With these decisions, it is not our intention to judge or question specific commemorations as we fully respect the significance of such moments in the respective countries, each one of them with its own history and background.

“However, keeping in mind that the rules need to be applied in a neutral and fair manner across Fifa’s 211 member associations, the display, among others, of any political or religious symbol is strictly prohibited. In the stadium and on the pitch, there is only room for sport, nothing else.”

East Londonderry MP Mr Campbell said football’s governing body was “out of touch”.

He commented: “Fifa have a regulation which precludes religious, political and commercial emblems.

“The poppy falls outside all three.

“The Easter Rising badge is clearly political.

“Even those who defend the Republic of Ireland’s right to wear that badge on their shirts, do not argue that it isn’t a political statement.”

The DUP politician continued: “The four FAs who did nothing to break the rules have ended up with bigger fines than the FA who clearly did break the rules.

“It shows how out of touch Fifa are. Given their problems they are the last people who should be pontificating over the rules.”

At the National Stadium in Belfast, the holding of a minute’s silence, the laying of a wreath and a poppy display by supporters before Northern Ireland’s 4-0 win over Azerbaijan on November 11 led to the punishment of the Irish FA.

Mr Campbell said: “I don’t accept the IFA or FAs in England, Scotland and Wales should have been fined for displaying poppies.

“Fifa should never have got involved.

“And even now that the fines have been applied there is complete disparity.

“In their statement Fifa say they do not intend to judge, yet they are clearly saying by the differing fines that they think the poppies were a bigger rule breach than the Easter Rising shirts.

“In the case of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland they are saying what we did is three times worse.”