Portsmouth charity criticises Fifa over plans to block England players wearing poppies on Armistice Day

A picture from November 2011 of an England player wearing a black armband with a poppy symbol on aside the England badge.
A picture from November 2011 of an England player wearing a black armband with a poppy symbol on aside the England badge.
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Fifa’s efforts to block England players wearing poppies on their shirts on Armistice Day has been labelled ‘a political game.’

Bob Beech, of the Pompey Pals Project, says that the move from football’s governing body is ‘typical Fifa’ and that players should be allowed to wear poppies as ‘a matter of choice.’

Gareth Southgate’s side host their neighbours at Wembley on Friday, November 11 in a World Cup qualifier.

A report in The Sun claimed Fifa had banned the two teams from displaying poppies on their shirts during the game as political statements are not allowed.

Mr Beech, who has led the project to commemorate the Pompey Pals battalion which served at the Battle of the Somme and in other First World War actions, said: ‘This is just typical Fifa. They’ve just completely missed the point and they just seem to have made it their own issue.

‘I could understand it if England wanted to wear them and Scotland didn’t but both teams want to wear them so it’s just become some sort of political game.

‘Wearing a poppy is a matter of choice and it is a symbol of pride in this country. We should be given the choice.

‘It is very sad the way Fifa have behaved in this situation.’

The Football Association is in discussions with Fifa over allowing players to show support for the Royal British Legion’s poppy appeal when England play Scotland.

In 2011, Fifa eventually backed down after threatening to ban the England team from wearing poppies in a friendly against Spain, allowing them to display the symbol on black armbands.

An FA statement read: “We are working closely with the Royal British Legion once again this year to honour and remember the sacrifices made by those serving in the armed forces.

“In recent weeks, the FA has led remembrance discussions with Fifa to allow the England team to show its support for the poppy appeal during the World Cup qualifier with Scotland.”

Fifa and the Scottish Football Association were unavailable for comment.