Northern Ireland news

Northern Ireland football team to wear black armbands but no poppies

An England player wearing a black armband with a poppy symbol. File picture by Nick Potts, Press Association
Staff Reporter

THE Northern Ireland football team is to wear black armbands without poppies during a World Cup qualifying match on Friday following talks with Fifa.

The team's game against Azerbaijan at Windsor Park in Belfast takes place on Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The Irish Football Association had requested permission from Fifa, world football's governing body, for the team to wear a poppy on their shirts or on armbands.

However, Fifa said it could not guarantee there would be no disciplinary proceedings if a poppy was displayed.

Political, religious or commercial messages are prohibited on shirts.

England and Scotland will defy Fifa at their match on Friday by wearing black armbands carrying the poppy symbol.

Fifa has also opened disciplinary proceedings over the Republic of Ireland's use of a logo to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising during a match earlier this year.

Players and supporters will observe a minute's silence before kick-off at Windsor Park on Friday. Names of players connected with the association who died during the First World War will also be shown on a big screen.

IFA chief executive Patrick Nelson said Fifa should clarify its rules.

"The Irish FA is committed to marking Armistice Day with appropriate acts of remembrance," he said.

"We asked Fifa if permission could be granted for the Northern Ireland team to wear a poppy on the shirt or on an armband.

"Based on law 4.4 of the laws of the game 2016/17, Fifa advised that they could give no guarantee that there would not be disciplinary proceedings if the Northern Ireland team was to wear a symbol of remembrance on the playing shirt.

"We have placed clarification of law 4.4 on the agenda for the next annual general meeting of the International Football Association Board which will be held in London in March."

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