ENGLAND VICTORY AS FIFA AGREE TO POPPY

POPPYGATE: HOW THE ROW UNFOLDED

FRIDAY
Fifa president Sepp Blatter (above) rejects a request from the Football Association for England players to wear poppies against Spain in this weekend’s match against Spain at Wembley

SUNDAY
England and Chelsea star Frank Lampard (above) joins war veterans in condemning Fifa’s stance, with a spokesman for the player saying: “It’s something he is passionate about” tuesday am

TUESDAY AM
FA general secretary Alex Horne makes a fresh appeal, while sports minister Hugh Robertson (above) writes to Fifa insisting poppies would not break rules on political emblems on shirts

TUESDAY PM
Fifa releases a ‘final statement’ insisting it will definitely not relent and allow poppies on shirts, despite one of its vice-presidents, Jim Boyce (above) urging them to exercise common sense

WEDNESDAY
Prince William and PM David Cameron both write to Fifa demanding it reconsiders. Later the FA announces Fifa has permitted poppies to be displayed on black armbands worn by England players

ENGLAND players will be allowed to wear poppies in Saturday’s friendly against Spain after Fifa last night finally relaxed its hardline stance following pleas from Prince William and prime minister David Cameron.

Fifa refused to cave in completely and allow poppies to be embroidered onto England’s shirts, but have permitted players to wear black armbands embellished with the flowers to mark Remembrance Sunday.

It followed a week of wrangling that culminated yesterday in the country’s leaders making impassioned pleas for the world governing body to reconsider their outright ban on poppies during the game.

Prince William, who had earlier written a private letter to Fifa imploring them to relent, welcomed the compromise. A spokesman for St James’s Palace said: “The Duke is happy with this resolution.”

Cameron also toasted the decision, hours after he had spoken out on the issue in the House of Commons. A Downing Street spokesman said: “It’s a sensible way forward.” Earlier he told MPs during prime minister’s questions: “It seems outrageous. I hope Fifa will reconsider.” He also wrote to Fifa president Sepp Blatter to plead the Football Association’s case.

Far-right group the English Defence League also became embroiled in the issue when two of its members climbed onto the roof of Fifa headquarters in Zurich yesterday to display a banner protesting against the poppy ban.

The FA’s hopes of succeeding in their campaign looked doomed to failure on Tuesday night when Fifa released a so-called final statement insisting there would be no change in policy. It had maintained from the outset of the row that wearing poppies would contravene their regulations, which outlaw symbols of a political, religious or commercial nature on international shirts.

War veterans, England players Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere and politicians had joined forces to condemn the ban, but apparently to negligible effect.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson on Tuesday wrote to Fifa stating the FA’s case and insisting the poppy was not political, religious or commercial.