FIFA Fines England Over £35,000 For Display Of Poppies During World Cup Qualifiers
Meanwhile, Scotland and Wales have been fined over £15,000, and Northern Ireland almost £12,000.
This article originally appeared on VICE Sports UK.
FIFA has fined all four home nations for displaying poppies during World Cup qualifiers in November, in commemoration of Armistice Day.
Football's world governing body has rules against players wearing "political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images," and has deemed that the poppy falls foul of those criteria. In November, threats of sanctions over use of the poppy led to an enormous war of opinion pieces in the newspapers, which ironically, and rather sadly, made what many would agree is an apolitical symbol of mourning look like exactly the sort of politicised emblem which FIFA seeks to proscribe.
With both England and Scotland players wearing poppy armbands during their World Cup qualifier at Wembley, along with various other forms of commemoration, they have been hit with fines of £35,311 and £15,684 respectively. Wales and Northern Ireland had displays on the pitch and in the stands, and have also been fined. The former have been hit with the same bill as Scotland, while the latter must now cough up £11,770.
According to the BBC, FIFA's disciplinary committee chairman Claudio Sulser has said he "fully respected" the Armistice Day commemorations, but reiterated that the rules "need to be applied to all member associations."
"The display, among others, of any political or religious symbol is strictly prohibited," he said. "In the stadium and on the pitch, there is only room for sport, nothing else."
Whether or not FIFA were right to prohibit the display of the poppy, their decision to fine the home nations is bound to stir up a whole new swathe of strident opinion. If nothing else, then, they have ensured that the rest of us will have to endure more unedifying patriotic posturing, and the general degradation of a meaningful symbol in another grubby, public tug of war.