England poppy plea falls on deaf ears as Fifa refuses to budge on gesture

ENGLAND have been told there is no way they will be allowed to wear poppies on their shirts in Saturday’s match against Spain, despite intensive lobbying from the Football Association (FA).

World governing body Fifa yesterday responded to a second request from the FA with a final letter making clear that embroidered poppies to mark Remembrance Sunday would break their rules.

“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,” read the Fifa letter.

“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.”

The FA have been urged by some fans to disregard Fifa’s warning and wear the poppies anyway, but such a move would leave them open to a fine or other sanctions from world chiefs.

England players will observe two minutes’ silence before the friendly against the world champions and will be allowed to sport poppies on their training kits, while armbands adorned with poppies have been mooted.

Fifa’s intransigence comes despite pressure from sports minister Hugh Robertson, who wrote urging a change of heart, and one of its own vice-presidents, the Northern Irishman Jim Boyce. Boyce said: “This is a special request and not political. I believe that common sense should prevail and that it should be looked at in a different light.”