Fifa to 'evaluate' Easter Rising symbol

Republic of Ireland 1916 rising slogan

Fifa is “evaluating” why the Republic of Ireland wore a symbol marking the Easter Rising, as the debate over England and Scotland not being allowed to wear poppies continues.

Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport select committee chair Damian Collins MP wants Fifa to “clarify the issue”.

England and Scotland are not allowed to wear a poppy when they meet at Wembley because of a Fifa rule banning political, religious or commercial messages on shirts, which UK Prime Minister Theresa May called outrageous.

The Easter Rising was an Irish rebellion against British rule, which lasted from 24 to 29 April 1916 and resulted in 485 deaths.

The Republic wore the symbol in a friendly against Switzerland on 25 March to mark the centenary of the rising.

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Collins said: “I have asked Fifa to clarify the issue over shirts worn by the Republic of Ireland because that appears to be an absolutely classic example of leniency being shown to other countries.”

Fifa said it “fully respects the significance of commemorating Remembrance Day”.

England and Scotland meet at Wembley on 11 November, the day when the United Kingdom remembers its war dead.

But Fifa added that the laws prohibiting political, religious or commercial messages “are applied uniformly in the event of similar requests by any member association to commemorate similar historical events”.

However, it went on to point out that the laws of the game it upholds are decided on by the International Football Association Board (Ifab) – made up of the four British FAs and Fifa.

The Ifab meets on Thursday, where the Scottish and English FA chiefs Stewart Regan and Martin Glenn have said they will be hoping to convince officials to allow players to wear poppies.

PM’s anger at Fifa

“Before they start telling us what to do, they jolly well ought to sort their own house out,” said Mrs May.

“Our football players want to recognise and respect those who have given their lives for our safety and security – I think it is absolutely right they should be able to do so.”

Fifa has been plagued by corruption allegations in recent years.

Sepp Blatter’s 17-year reign as president ended in December, when he was suspended for eight years from all football-related activities following an ethics investigation. His ban was later reduced to six years.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May said the wearing of poppies was a matter for the English and Scottish football associations to resolve, but there was a “clear message” from the House of Commons that “we want our players to be able to wear those poppies”.

The Football Association of Wales has also written to Fifa requesting permission to wear poppies on armbands during their game against Serbia in Cardiff on 12 November.

English rugby team to wear poppies

Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie has confirmed the England players will wear poppies on their shirts for the autumn Test against South Africa at Twickenham on 12 November.

The world governing body World Rugby has been “very supportive”, according to Ritchie.

“We are commemorating and remembering all people who have died in conflict. This is not a partisan thing or a political statement,” Ritchie told BBC Radio 5 live.

“This is something that is just right as an act of remembrance, and it is right to do it on the weekend when we play South Africa.”

Wales’ rugby team will also wear a commemorative poppy on their shirt in their Test match against Argentina on the same day.

‘There will be poppies at Wembley’

FA chairman Greg Clarke told ITV news that England’s football governing body was “negotiating in good faith with Fifa to try and find a solution”.

“My personal opinion, and that as chair of the FA, is that of course we should wear poppies,” said Clarke. “We are commemorating millions of people who gave their lives in wars over the years. They, and the people who lost relatives, deserve that. That is our plan.

“We are balancing respect for the fallen and their families with respect for the governing body.

“There will be poppies at Wembley.”

‘England should risk points deduction’

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) said on Tuesday that Fifa had turned down a request from England and Scotland for players to wear armbands in next Friday’s World Cup qualifier.

While the two football associations hope to change Fifa’s mind, they also want to know what the potential punishments could be should they flout the rule.

Former Culture, Media and Sport Secretary John Whittingdale MP says the England team should wear poppies – even if a points deduction is possible.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live’s Emma Barnett, he said: “For [Fifa] to try and brand the poppy as a political symbol shows a total misunderstanding. I think there are a number of reasons why we are already profoundly unhappy with Fifa’s behaviour and conduct and this adds to that list.”

Fifa has not indicated whether a points penalty would be under consideration as a potential punishment.

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‘Fifa should overturn this bizarre decision’

A motion has been lodged at the Scottish Parliament calling for Fifa’s poppy ban to be scrapped.

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden said: “It’s obvious for all to see that wearing a poppy to commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice is not a political statement.

“Fifa should overturn this bizarre decision immediately. The fans, players and football associations on both sides of the border want to be able to wear the poppy with pride.

“I hope MSPs across all parties back this motion and call for an urgent rethink.”

England are top of their 2018 World Cup qualifying group with seven points from three games. Scotland are fourth with four points.

The top team qualifies automatically for the finals in Russia, with the second-placed side possibly entering a play-off.

Wales are third in Group D, behind Serbia and the Republic of Ireland.

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