England and Scotland will face FIFA sanctions after insisting they will feature embroidered poppies honoring Britain’s war dead on their soccer jerseys for a match between the neighbours.
England and Scotland will meet for a World Cup qualifier on November 11, Britain’s Remembrance Day, when British Commonwealth forces who have died on duty since World War I are honoured.
Both associations asked FIFA to let their players wear the commemorative poppies somewhere on their jerseys, but that would breach rules banning political, religious, personal or commercial messages on official uniforms and equipment.
Granting an exemption for England and Scotland would create a political minefield, according to soccer’s governing body. FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said on Wednesday that she had already been approached by other member associations asking for “similar exceptions” and the “response has been the same: We have to apply uniformly and across the 211 member associations the laws of the game. You could make many exceptions,” Samoura, a Senegalese, added.
“Britain is not the only country that has been suffering from the result of war. Syria is an example. My own continent has been torn by war for years. And the only question is why are we doing exceptions for just one country and not the rest of the world?”
In separate statements, the English and Scottish Football Associations both insisted that the “poppy is an important symbol of remembrance and we do not believe it represents a political, religious or commercial message, nor does it relate to any one historical event.”
A FIFA compromise in 2011 allowed England players to wear the poppy on black armbands for a friendly against Spain.