Northern Ireland and Wales to face disciplinary action over poppy displays

Fifa will investigate “several incidents involving the display of poppy symbols” during games in Belfast and Cardiff.

Northern Ireland fans during the minute's silence to remember those who died during the First World War Fans formed a poppy display before Northern Ireland's game against Azerbaijan in Belfast. Presseye / William Cherry/INPHO Presseye / William Cherry/INPHO / William Cherry/INPHO

DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS HAVE been opened by Fifa against the Football Associations in Northern Ireland and Wales as a result of the display of poppy symbols during both nations’ recent World Cup qualifiers.

After similar action was taken against the English and Scottish FAs, Northern Ireland and Wales are now also set to be investigated for “several incidents” that took place relating to their games against Azerbaijan and Serbia respectively.

Due to the potential of a fine or a points penalty from world football’s governing body, the Northern Ireland and Wales players wore black armbands instead of poppies on their shirts to mark Armistice Day.

Nevertheless, disciplinary proceedings by Fifa have now begun as Northern Ireland and Wales still appear to have fallen foul of FIFA rule 4.4 concerning political, religious or commercial messages.

Although the players avoided wearing the poppy, supporters displayed a poppy mosaic before kick-off and members of the armed services held poppy wreaths during a pre-match tribute ceremony.

Wales v Serbia - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Cardiff City Stadium Gareth Bale, wearing a black armband, celebrates after scoring for Wales against Serbia. PA Archive / PA Images PA Archive / PA Images / PA Images

A FIFA spokesperson said: “The Disciplinary Committee decided to open proceedings against the Irish Football Association and the Football Association of Wales in relation to several incidents involving the display of poppy symbols reported after the matches Northern Ireland-Azerbaijan and Wales-Serbia respectively.”

In response, the Irish FA has said: “The Irish Football Association will robustly defend the disciplinary charges that have been levelled against it by Fifa regarding acts of remembrance at the World Cup qualifying match between Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan on 11 November.”

England and Scotland players wore black armbands with poppy emblems for their World Cup qualifier at Wembley on the same night, with their associations insisting that they would accept “any kind of sanction”.

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