In a written statement issued today by the Football Association of Wales, FIFA have been advised that the FAW will appeal their decision to impose sanctions concerning presentations and members of the crowd wearing a poppy in commemoration of Armistice day which coincided with the game against Serbia last year.
Although the poppy is worn in commemoration of all of those who served and in remembrance of the sacrifices made especially those who lost their lives across ALL national divides, FIFA have deemed the wearing of a poppy, the sign of peace and remembrance, a ‘political act’ which is in conflict with their rules.
Fifa, originally established in France , May 1904, made an exception in 2011 for the United Kingdom home nations to wear a black arm band with a Remembrance poppy emblem on it. The poppy, a symbol of remembrance and peace in the U K has been worn since 1921 to remember war dead. Historically the period of remembrance starts on 11 November, Remembrance Day, a day which signified the end of the First World War and runs through until Remembrance Sunday. This symbol has been adopted by Commonwealth nations around the world in remembrance of their war dead including Canada, Australia, New Zealand. As the football games in 2011 clashed with the United Kingdom Remembrance Day period the UK the Home Nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) were allowed to wear black Remembrance poppy arm bands whilst playing.
In 2016 the British Home Nations games clashed again with the United Kingdom Remembrance Day period. This time however FIFA told them that they were not allowed to wear the poppy armbands. All four British Home Nations announced that they would wear the poppy arm band regardless and face whatever penalty was incurred. England played Scotland on 11 November 2016, whilst on the 12th November Wales played Serbia and Northern Ireland played Azerbaijan. Although all four Home Nations had originally agreed to ignore the ban, Wales and Northern Ireland were advised and ultimately misled into believing that there would only be a punishment if the opposition team complained about the arm band.
As the Home Nation England played the Home Nation Scotland both teams would agree not to complain and therefore avoid a penalty. Wales and Northern Ireland on the other hand, who both faced teams from away, would receive a penalty if the armband was worn and a complaint made by the away team. The Welsh and Northern Irish teams decided at the last minute to not wear the poppy arm band and instead came up with alternative ways in which the poppy could still be featured at the games, as the crowd and nation at large would expect and prefer, by including wreaths of poppies and fans holding up placards with poppy images on them. England and Scotland played each other and wore the poppy armbands, Wales and Northern Ireland did not. On 14 November 2016 FIFA announced that England and Scotland would both face penalties even though no one had made a complaint, and on 23 November 2016 FIFA announced that Wales and Northern Ireland would both face penalties even again though no one had made a complaint against them.
The list of charges brought against the Welsh team included bringing Remembrance poppy wreaths on to the pitch, fans holding Remembrance poppy placards and controversially ‘fans in the stadium wearing a Remembrance poppy on their shirts’
Since the establishment of poppy as a symbol of remembrance in 1921 all British teams have worn a Remembrance poppy on their shirts at Armistice time. Many people felt that the decision by FIFA at this time was a step too far. There has been a huge backlash from all parts of the media in all four of the Home Nations against this decision.
In a statement issued by FAW press officer Ben Donovan the association said “The Football Association of Wales can confirm that it has received written reasons from FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee relating to sanctions imposed during our World Cup Qualifier against Serbia on November 12, 2016.
Following this, the FAW have now informed FIFA of our intention to appeal the decision.”
It is understood that all four home nations will continue to press their case.