Northern Ireland footballers will be allowed to wear poppies again after FIFA scraps ban

Northern Ireland footballers will be allowed to wear poppies again after FIFA scraps ban

ALL four UK home nations including Northern Ireland will be allowed to wear poppies on their shirts again after FIFA lifted its controversial ban on the commemorative symbol.

Football associations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were fined by FIFA for ignoring warnings not to commemorate Armistice Day last in their World Cup Qualifiers last November.

FIFA’s stance was based on a strict interpretation of its laws against the use of personal, political or religious slogans or symbols in stadiums.

It sparked fury from British Prime Minister Theresa May, who hit out at what she called the “outrageous” FIFA ban at the time.

She told the House of Commons that footballers should be allowed “to recognise and respect those who have given their lives for our safety and security.”

"I think it is absolutely right that they should be able to do so,” she added.

A formal announcement of a change to the rule regarding poppies is expected to be made for the England v Germany match on November 10.

Northern Ireland have no games during this year’s Armistice period – with their only planned international fixtures coming against Germany and Norway early next month.

A spokesman for the Irish Football Associations (IFA) told The Irish Post said the organisation had discussed the future of wearing symbols on playing shirts at their annual meeting.

The IFA said: “The Irish Football Association placed clarification of the law 4.5 (regarding symbols on playing shirts) on the agenda for the annual general meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) which was held in March.

“An amendment to this law is to go before the IFAB in October.

“The association will not be making any further comment until the proposed changes to the game’s laws are ratified.”

Britain’s Minister for Sports, Tracey Crouch, welcomed news that FIFA is set to scrap the poppy ban.

“I am pleased that it appears FIFA is finally going to apply common sense and change its position on poppies,” she said in a statement.

“It is completely right that footballers and fans alike should be able to wear poppies with pride, as a tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of our servicemen and women.”

FIFA’s rule change will permit the wearing of poppy emblems if there is no advance objection from both teams involved as well as the competition organiser.

If England seal qualification for next summer’s World Cup in their next two games in early October, they will play Germany in a friendly at Wembley in November.

It is understood that the English FA have already been given permission by the German FA to wear poppies at the game if it goes ahead.

A ban on some displays – such as discriminatory organisations, political parties or groups and commemorations of any living or dead person – will remain.