FIFA allows England to wear poppy symbol during international with Spain
The British public wears poppies to honor members of the armed forces who have died in conflict
FIFA bans political, religious or commercial messages on shirts but agreed to compromise
UK Prime Minister David Cameron wrote to FIFA to contest their original decision
FIFA have permitted England’s soccer players to wear a poppy symbol to honor the country’s war dead during Saturday’s international friendly with Spain after interventions from the British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William.
The pair wrote to football’s world governing body asking that England be allowed to wear an embroidered poppy on their shirts to remember those in the armed forces who have died in the line of duty.
Remembrance Day, on November 11, marks the anniversary of the end of the First World War and the poppy has become the traditional symbol of the occasion. English Premier League clubs wore a poppy on their shirts during last weekend’s round of matches.
FIFA had initially forbidden the England national team from wearing the symbol on their shirts as it bans political, religious or commercial messages on team strips.
But after Clarence House released a statement in which they said Prince William was “dismayed” by the decision, and David Cameron told Britain’s parliament the ban was “outrageous” FIFA relented.
They have agreed the poppy symbol can now be included on black armbands England’s players will be wearing during the clash with the World and European champions at Wembley.
A statement on the English Football Association’s (FA) official website read: “While continuing to adhere to the Laws of the Game, wearing the poppy on the armband does ensure the poppy will be visible throughout the game. The FA welcomes FIFA’s decision and thanks them for agreeing to this.”
FIFA had initially stood firm on their ban, stating it was applied globally to prevent shirts being used to commemorate national events or to convey political messages.
They said agreeing to England’s request would “open the door to similar initiatives” across the world and “jeopardize the neutrality of football.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Cameron said in a statement: “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.”
He then told parliament: “It seems outrageous. I hope Fifa will reconsider.”
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, wrote to FIFA in his role as president of the FA and asked for “an exception in this special circumstance.”
A spokesman for the Duke said: “The Duke’s strong view is that the poppy is a universal symbol of remembrance, which has no political, religious or commercial connotations.”
After the compromise was struck the Duke was said to be “happy” with the resolution.”