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IFA faces Fifa sanction over poppy display

Fans displayed a poppy mosaic in the West Stand during the Northern Ireland match with Azerbaijan at Windsor Park earlier this month
Gareth McKeown

THE Irish Football Association has said it will "robustly defend" disciplinary charges from Fifa over poppy displays at a recent international match in Belfast.

Northern Ireland and Wales are both to face sanctions from Fifa in relation to the last round of World Cup qualifying matches, falling foul of Fifa rule 4.4 concerning political, religious or commercial messages.

Before their match with Azerbaijan on November 11 the IFA agreed to abide by Fifa's ruling that players must not wear a poppy symbol on their jerseys and instead wore black armbands.

A minute's silence was held though, a wreath was laid and a poppy mosaic was displayed by fans in the West Stand of Windsor Park.

The names of players connected with the association who died during the First World War were also displayed on the big screen while the Royal British Legion collected inside the ground for the Poppy Appeal.

A FIFA spokesman said: "The Disciplinary Committee decided to open proceedings against the Irish Football Association and the Football Association of Wales in relation to several incidents involving the display of poppy symbols reported after the matches Northern Ireland-Azerbaijan and Wales-Serbia respectively."

In response the IFA has said it "will robustly defend the disciplinary charges that have been levelled against it".

Earlier this month Fifa opened disciplinary proceedings against the Football Association of Ireland after Republic players wore special jerseys commemorating the Easter Rising in a friendly against Switzerland in Dublin in March.

Both the English and Scottish Football Associations also face sanctions after players violated the Fifa ruling by wearing black armbands with a poppy symbol during their World Cup Qualifying match on November 11.

All four nations now face the possibility of a fine or even a possible points deduction.

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