IFA awaits Fifa decision on poppies for Remembrance Day match

Northern Ireland's Connor McLaughlin in action during the team's last World Cup qualifying clash at Windsor Park against San Marino. Picture by Colm Lenaghan
Paul Ainsworth

THE Irish Football Association is awaiting a response to plans for their own “act of Remembrance” at an upcoming Windsor Park match as soccer authorities in Britain negotiate the possibility of players sporting poppies in upcoming World Cup qualifying games.

Northern Ireland play Azerbaijan at the Belfast stadium on November 11 – Remembrance Day – and the IFA is hoping to pay tribute to fallen soldiers during the game.

However, no decision has been made by Fifa as to what will be allowed under its rules, which prohibit on-pitch political displays.

The world footballing body’s protocols mean players are not allowed to wear poppies on their jerseys, but with England also playing Scotland in Wembley Stadium on November 11, and Wales playing Serbia the following day, Britain’s three footballing associations are discussing the issue with Fifa.

Flouting the rules by having players sport such symbols can lead to fines, but a previous compromise was reached when England players wore an armband bearing a poppy image for a November 12 2011 friendly match against Spain.

The associations' hoped this year’s change in leadership at the top of Fifa – with president Gianni Infantino replacing the disgraced Sepp Blatter back in February - would see a compromise agreed faster this time around.

Yet it is not known what role – if any – the poppy will play in the upcoming Northern Ireland match.

An IFA spokesman said no decision would be made until a response is forthcoming from Fifa.

“There will be an act of remembrance at the match on November 11,” the spokesman said.

“We wrote to Fifa about what is permitted under game protocols and are awaiting their response.”

Meanwhile, a Fifa spokeswoman told the Irish News that as with the discussions involving the English, Scottish and Welsh FAs, “talks are still ongoing”.

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