England and Scotland will hold face-to-face talks with FIFA on Thursday in a bid to “give the people what they want” and get the governing body to drop its opposition to players wearing poppies on Armistice Day.
England play Scotland in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on November 11, the day when the United Kingdom traditionally remembers its war dead.
Under FIFA rules, players are not allowed to wear poppies a symbol of remembrance on their shirts during the game because it would be a political statement.
In 2011, FIFA agreed as a compromise to let England wear a poppy symbol on black armbands when they played Spain in a friendly.
Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, said yesterday that a request for England and Scotland to do likewise later this month had been turned down by FIFA officials “sticking to the letter of the law”.
The Football Association of Wales are also seeking FIFA clearance for their players to display the poppy symbol on their shirts when they face Serbia in Cardiff on November 12.
All the national associations are keen to know in advance what punishments they may face if they go ahead with a poppy tribute without FIFA agreement, amid fears they could be docked valuable World Cup qualifying points.
Regan said he and English FA counterpart Martin Glenn planned to meet FIFA officials on Thursday.
“We will be asking for their support to try to give the people of England and Scotland what they want,” Regan told BBC radio. “That is to use this match of a way of remembering people who lost their lives in the war.
“I can understand why they are doing this, but it is nothing more than a mark of respect. It is a personal choice. This is not about making some political point.”
Earlier, a FIFA spokesperson indicated to AFP that talks were ongoing: “FIFA is in touch with the English FA on this matter.”
The issue is a sensitive one in Britain, with many people wearing paper poppies on their clothes to show their respect.
Underlining the gravity of the subject for some, a spokeswoman for British Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters at the House of Commons: “FIFA and the FA are talking about it at the moment.
“The prime minister herself got her poppy yesterday and she thinks that it is important that people across the country can pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of servicemen and women killed in conflict and wear their poppies with pride.”