FIFA fines British football teams for the display of “political symbols”

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The Football Associations of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have been fined by world football’s governing body FIFA for displaying poppies during World Cup qualifiers played in November.

England were given the biggest fines of 45,000 Swiss francs (€42,000), Scotland and Wales must pay 20,000 Swiss francs (€19,000) and Northern Ireland 15,000 for what FIFA described as the display of a “political symbol” and other incidents.

FIFA’s Secretary General has said England and Scotland should not be given special dispensation for wearing poppies in their World Cup qualifier on Armistice Day.

Football’s governing body had insisted that black armbands containing poppies were not to be worn during the match due to rules against “political” symbols but the home nations defied the ban.

Fatma Samoura told ITV News: “I just think that every single country has something to remember and just imagine if each of the 211 MA’s (member associations) have during one official match to display messages.

“It’s just opening a Pandora box and it can lead to messages being really conflicting and this is what I wanted to avoid.”

Under FIFA rules, teams are not allowed to wear shirts with any “political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on them.

But the FA and Scottish FA maintained: “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.”

Samoura apologised for the outrage that resulted as a result of her reminding Britain’s national teams about the ban on poppies, but insisted:

“I just flagged the issue to the FA’s upon their request and they will have to wait until the disciplinary committee meets and deliberate on this specific issue.

“It was just my responsibility to remind people that our rules that are regulating and governing FIFA, and the law of the games and we should abide to them.”

When asked if she understood the anger in the UK over Fifa’s ban on international players wearing poppies, Samoura said:

“I don’t understand it really.”

“To me it’s just something that people should be educated about, they should know that we cannot grant exception.

“If we have prohibited the use of messaging in the armband of the player because it can lead to messages that can produce messages that are counter productive for the development of the game, people should respect that. “

But Samoura also said the issue should open the debate on what kind of messages could potentially expressed.

“Especially if it is about remembering people who have lost their life, for other people to have liberty to get the possibility.

“But then you have to make it a global debate because we should not grant exception based on the fact that it’s important one nation,” she added.

“We are an international body, composed by 211 member associations and if we have to really consider the religious or political or cultural sensitivity, we should be open to consider it for everyone.

“Definitely we need to have a more open mind on this kind of event.”