Football’s ruling world body, Fifa, has banned footballers from wearing poppies on their shirts during an England v Scotland match to be played on November 11 – Armistice Day.
The decision was taken as the governing body deemed the poppies to be a political statement, banned under Fifa rules which prohibit political, religious, or personal symbols being displayed on shirts.
A similar decision was taken five years ago when England players were banned from wearing the symbol during a game against Spain held on the eve of Remembrance Sunday. In that instance, a compromise solution was found allowing England players to wear the poppy on a black armband.
The Footballing Association has called for a similar compromise to be allowed at this years’ match, as well as the Wales v Serbia match the following evening.
Greg Clarke, the Football Association chairman, told The Times: “We are talking to Fifa and trying to get them to see it’s just a remembrance symbol, that it is not political or religious.
“We are aware that culturally it may not translate that well, but there was a compromise solution reached with armbands before where the poppy was not worn on the shirt itself and we are hopeful that a sensible compromise can be agreed this time as well.”
However, Stewart Regan, the chief executive of the Scottish FA, said Fifa appeared not to have accepted that the 2011 Spain v England game had set a precedent.
“We wrote to Fifa three weeks ago and explained that the poppy is not a religious or political symbol, but they are not happy with anything on a shirt or an armband,” he said.
“It will be quite a poignant occasion, it is on Armistice Day itself and being able to wear an armband would be a great mark of respect for both teams. It is no different really to players wearing a black armband when someone has died.”
The decision has angered veterans, who have called on the FA to ignore the ruling even if it risks being slapped with a fine.
Falklands veteran Simon Weston told The Sun: “The FAs of both Scotland and England should stand up and be counted.
“Both those countries took part in both World Wars and should take the lead. They should pay any fine Fifa has to give them. This is not a political gesture.
“Who are Fifa? A bunch of people who make a hell of a lot of money and turn round and treat people like cattle. How dare they?”
His call gained the support of UKIP MEP Mike Hookem, who slammed the ban as nonsensical, saying: “The wearing of poppies is not a political statement nor is it glorifying war.
“It is an act of remembrance of those who gave their lives, including the 15 professional and top level footballers who were killed in World War II. They did so in order to secure freedom and liberty including the right for players to play football and fans to support in peace.
“I hope the FA treat this FIFA ruling with the contempt it deserves and our players proudly wear the poppy on their shirts and fans wear their poppies with pride.”