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Nov 8, 2011

FIFA rejects FA's poppy appeal

FIFA have rejected the Football Association's renewed appeal for England players to be allowed to have embroidered Remembrance Day poppies on their shirts this weekend.

The FA had made a special request to FIFA for permission to wear the poppies for Saturday's international friendly against Spain in honour of members of the armed forces who have died in the line of duty.

The world body have now issued a "final statement'' rejecting the plea.

A letter from FIFA to the FA sent on Tuesday said: "We regret to inform you that accepting such initiatives would open the door to similar initiatives from all over the world, jeopardising the neutrality of football. Therefore, we confirm herewith that the suggested embroidery on the match shirt cannot be authorised.

"There are a variety of options where The FA can continue supporting the cause of Remembrance. One of them already was approved by FIFA, the Period of Silence.''

Earlier, Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce added his voice to calls for the world governing body to permit international teams from the UK to wear poppies on their shirts.

"Personally I think there has to be a bit of common sense used when requests like this come in," the Northern Irishman said. "Armistice Day is a very important day in the FA calendar, as it is with other associations, and I don't think it would offend anybody to have a poppy on the shirts.

"I am not involved in the decision and I do understand there have to be rules. But as this is a special request from a member of FIFA and is not of a political nature I believe that common sense should prevail and that it should be looked at in a different light.''

FIFA have allowed a minute's silence to be held before the sell-out game, for the England players to wear poppies on their training kit at Wembley on Friday, and to stand for the traditional two minutes' silence to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month on Friday.

FIFA's rules prevent anything of a political nature being worn on shirts and although the organisation does not regard poppies as political, they are concerned it would open the door to countries wanting to wear various different emblems on their shirts, some of which would be overtly political.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron added his voice to those condemning FIFA's snub, saying: "This seems outrageous. The idea that wearing a poppy to remember those who have given their lives for our freedom is a political act is absurd.

"Wearing a poppy is an act of huge respect and national pride. I hope that FIFA will reconsider."

Scotland players will also wear a poppy on their training kit ahead of their friendly against Cyprus on Friday night. There is no silence planned before the game, which is being hosted by the Cypriots in Larnaca.

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