So football’s governing body has fined all four home nations for displaying poppies during World Cup qualifying matches around Armistice Day. It says it understands what the poppy symbolises and “fully respected” their display. They respected it so much they regard it as a crime that warrants a sanction.
They say they did so because the rules have to apply to everyone. The rules, let us be clear, are: “The display, among others, of any political or religious symbol is strictly prohibited.”
The poppy is clearly not religious, so the inference must be that somehow the symbol has been construed as political.
It is a safe bet that if the big brains at Fifa trawled through every political manifesto of every party in this country they would be struggling to find any mention of the poppy as a symbol, never mind any controversy or argument.
It is hard to understand why they can’t grasp that, which is why it is good that the Scottish Football Association is to ask Fifa for their full reasons. That will make for interesting reading. At some point, though, the SFA must decide whether to pay up or remain defiant. Although paying up will offer the quickest solution, and remaining defiant might just seem like being thrawn, there is more to consider.
Does Fifa’s ruling mean that supporting any charity has no place in sporting arenas? And what happens next year around Armistice Day? Unfortunately simply getting this over with will not offer any longer-term solutions, and there must be answers to these questions. The hard reality is that the SFA must continue to defy this illogical position taken by Fifa.