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FA defies Fifa rule, to continue with poppy motif

Published : Nov 11, 2016, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Nov 12, 2016, 3:19 pm IST

FA are morally right to insist on England team wearing commemorative poppies in World Cup qualifier with Scotland, said Martin Glenn

Harry Kane
 Harry Kane

The English Football Association are morally right to insist on the England team wearing commemorative poppies in Friday’s World Cup qualifier with Scotland said chief executive Martin Glenn on Thursday.

World governing body Fifa forbids teams from wearing political, commercial or religious symbols during matches and has warned England and Scotland they could face sanctions if they defy the directive.

But the football associations of both countries have decided their players will wear black armbands with poppy motifs to honour Britain’s war dead in the Armistice Day fixture.

Glenn, who was speaking at a Sport Industry Club breakfast, said they had been open with Fifa over the issue.

“A couple of weeks ago we told Fifa, in line with what he had agreed with them in 2011 (for a game with Spain) that we would wear armbands, not a poppy embedded in the shirt because Fifa have a law of the game that you cannot use political symbols on shirts,” said Glenn.

Glenn, who has been in his post for 18 months after a successful career in the food industry, said the post Sepp Blatter regime headed by Gianni Infantino had wanted to make a point.

“We had a row with them in 2011 and thought we had got over it,” said Glenn referring to a dispute with the then Blatter-run Fifa who eventually conceded and allowed England to wear poppies on armbands in a friendly with Spain.

“Unfortunately with the new personalities coming in they wanted to make a bit of a stand, which is very disappointing.

“I had hoped to resolve it quietly but these things never happen quietly.

“That forced us to be clear about our position, which is we are going to wear them.”

‘Misinterpreting the rules’ Glenn, who admitted he was much more optimistic about the Infantino-led Fifa and welcomed the hiring of former UN official Fatma Samoura as secretary-general, said the FA believed Fifa were misinterpreting the rules.

“We think they are interpreting the rules wrongly,” said Glenn.

“This is a law of the game issue, not a Fifa competition issue.

“In England over the last couple of weekends, clubs have worn poppies on the shirts which is also a breach of regulations and nothing has happened about that.

“Why have they done nothing about that

“So I am very confident that our legal position is right.

“Our moral position is certainly right.

“There are bigger things for Fifa to worry about.”

Glenn, who has had to deal with his fair share of disappointments since his arrival with England losing to minnows Iceland in Euro 2016 and Sam Allardyce resigning as manager over Daily Telegraph sting operation, said they would fight any sanctions should Fifa impose them.

“And if there were something I am sure we could persuade them to divert the fine into supporting the British Legion (a charity that for veterans and serving members of the Armed Services and their families.

People in Britain wear paper or metal brooch poppies in November to remember the country’s war dead.

England’s game against Scotland falls on November 11, which was the date the Armistice was signed to end World War I in 1918.

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