FIFA fines British national teams $100K for poppy displays

A sign of the FIFA is seen at the entrance of the world football's governing body headquarters on October 13, 2016 in Zurich. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

The English and Scottish Football Associations have been fined by FIFA after players wore poppies on their armbands during a World Cup qualifier in November.

FIFA forbids players and fans of its 211 member nations from displaying political or religious symbols during international games. This includes the poppy emblems used to remember those in the armed forces who died in the line of duty.

England was fined $44,000 and Scotland $19,500 for participating in the same display in London on November 11 — which in the UK is known as Remembrance Day, marking the anniversary of the end of World War I.

“England has been fined for several incidents in the framework of the England vs. Scotland match, including the display by the host association, the English team and spectators of a political symbol and several cases of spectator misconduct,” FIFA said in a statement.

“Scotland, as the visiting association, has been fined for the display of the same political symbol and cases of misconduct committed by its own group of spectators.”

The English FA, which was handed a higher fine as the host nation, released a statement on Twitter stating that it intends to appeal.

Wales and Northern Ireland decided not to use poppies on shirts in their World Cup qualifiers, with the players instead wearing plain black armbands. However, the two associations were fined $19,500 and $14,700 respectively “in relation to several incidents, including the display of political symbols” inside their stadiums.

The Republic of Ireland was fined $5,000 for use of a logo on team shirts in a March friendly which marked the 100th anniversary of the “Easter Rising” seeking independence from British rule.

FIFA disciplinary committee chairman Claudio Sulser added: “In the stadium and on the pitch, there is only room for sport, nothing else.”

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‘Utterly outrageous’
FIFA’s refusal to allow the England and Scotland players the right to wear poppies was widely criticized.

British leader Theresa May, speaking during the prime minister’s questions at the House of Common sin London, said the move was “utterly outrageous.”

“Our footballers want to recognize and respect those who have given their lives for our safety and security,” May said. “I think it is absolutely right that they should be able to do so.”

The match, held at Wembley Stadium, ended in a 3-0 win for England after headed goals from Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana, and Gary Cahill.

England sits top of its World Cup qualifying pool after the four games, despite the sacking of former manager Sam Allardyce for off-field indiscretions following his only match in charge.

$580,000 payday for FIFA
FIFA, under the new leadership of Gianni Infantino, handed out $580,000 worth of fines to 18 countries in punishments announced Monday.

Copa America champion Chile was fined $29,000 and banned from playing at its Estadio Nacional in Santiago after homophobic chants were reported during World Cup qualifying games against Paraguay and Ecuador.

There have been widespread concerns regarding fan behavior during football matches worldwide, particularly with the 2018 World Cup in Russia on the horizon — a country frequently guilt of fan violence and abuse.

During the Euro 2016 tournament, for example, the Moscow-based SOVA Center for Information and Analysis says a group of nine young men in Yekaterinburg attacked visitors at a gay bar, shooting air rifles.

Several of the fines handed out by FIFA relate to fan behavior.

Poland, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Panama, Mexico and Venezuela were fined between $19,500-$34,000 for supporters’ unsporting conduct, including homophobic chants.

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Romania’s $93,000 fine was the largest of those released by FIFA, on top of also being banned from playing at the Arena Naționalăin in Bucharest for two games following events during a World Cup qualifier against Poland.

Greece was fined $78,000 for several incidents in its home game against Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Ukraine must pay $59,000 for fans’ “discriminatory chants” during a friendly with Serbia.