Northern Ireland players will wear black armbands instead of poppies in World Cup qualifier

Northern Ireland players will wear black armbands to mark Armistice Day
Northern Ireland players will wear black armbands to mark Armistice Day

Northern Ireland players will wear a plain black armband to mark Armistice Day during Friday’s World Cup qualifying match against Azerbaijan.

The Irish FA had asked Fifa for permission for the team to wear poppies on their shirts or armbands as an act of remembrance.

But football’s governing body advised that they could give no guarantee that there would not be disciplinary proceedings if the symbol was worn.

Fifa rules prohibit players carrying commercial, political or religious messages on their kits.

However, England and Scotland players will wear poppies on black armbands during their Armistice Day World Cup qualifier at Wembley, in defiance of the ban.

Both the English and Scottish FAs have said they do not believe poppies carry a political message.

During Friday’s World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium in Belfast, a minute’s silence will be held before kick off, names of players connected with the association who died during the First World War will be shown on the big scree, and there will be a card display featuring a poppy in the West Stand.

The Royal British Legion will collect inside the ground for this year’s Poppy Appeal and a wreath will be laid in memory of the fallen.

Finally, there will be a special feature in the match-day programme on four international players who fought and died during the Great War.

Patrick Nelson, chief executive of the IFA, said: “The Irish FA is committed to marking Armistice Day with appropriate acts of remembrance.

“Based on law 4.4 of the laws of the game 2016/17, Fifa advised that they could give no guarantee that there would not be disciplinary proceedings if the team was to wear a symbol of remembrance on the playing shirt.

“As a member of IFAB, we have placed clarification of law 4.4 on the agenda for the next annual general meeting of the International Football Association Board which will be held in London in March.”