The Royal British Legion has jumped into the row about whether footballers will be allowed to wear poppies at a key match, urging the sport’s ruling body to lift its ban.
FIFA has told England and Scotland players that they won’t be able to wear poppies when they compete in a World Cup qualifier on Armistice Day.
The association says poppies could be termed a religious or political symbol and, as such, are banned under its rules.
However, The Royal British Legion has issued a written plea to ask FIFA bosses to rethink.
The letter from the forces charity says: “We ask you, Fifa, in the strongest terms, that you rethink your approach to remembrance and the use of the poppy.The poppy is a symbol of remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.”
FIFA rules say that players cannot wear anything which could be deemed political, religious or commercial on their shirts, apart from sponsors’ information.
It is expected that players from both teams will don black armbands with the poppy symbol on them.
But officials from the England and Scottish Football Associations say they will continue to talk to FIFA right up until the final hour in a bid to come up with a solution everyone is happy with.
British Legion director general Charles Byrne penned an open letter to FIFA in which he said: “Since 1921 the Legion has protected the red poppy from political or partisan misuse and ensured it remains a symbol that can be worn with pride by those of all ages, backgrounds, and political and religious beliefs.
“The red poppy is worn so that we never forget the commitment and sacrifices of the serving, never forget those who need help to live on through the consequences of war, and always remember our troubled world needs reconciliation and peace.
“The poppy represents sacrifices made in the defence of freedom, and so the decision to wear it must be a matter of personal choice. We would never insist upon it, as to do so would be contrary to the spirit of remembrance and all that the poppy stands for.”
The row has reached new heights over the past few days, with Prime Minister Theresa May stepping in the brand the ban “utterly outrageous”.
England and Scotland fear if they choose to flout the ban, they could have points deducted.