Fifa investigates Welsh & Northern Irish FAs over poppy displays

Remembrance is marked on the pitch ahead of Wales v Serbia
Remembrance is marked at Cardiff City Stadium before Wales' game against Serbia

Football's world governing body has started disciplinary proceedings against the Football Association of Wales for incidents including "fans wearing poppies" during a recent match.

It relates to commemorations at Wales' 1-1 draw with Serbia on 12 November.

The Irish Football Association is also under investigation for events prior to Northern Ireland's 4-0 victory over Azerbaijan on 11 November.

Fifa is looking in to several incidents "of the display of poppy symbols".

International Football Association Board rules ban "political, religious or personal messages" on kits, while Fifa ground safety regulations say "the promotion or announcement of political or religious messages" in stadiums is "strictly prohibited".

Teams breaching the rules can be fined or have points deducted.

The FAW said the incidents being investigated include "fans in the stands wearing the poppy" and the presence of "a member of the armed forces holding a bunch of poppies at the exit of the tunnel".

Chief executive Jonathan Ford said the FAW is "disappointed and surprised" and will "strongly contest the charges".

"Our intention was to show respect on Armistice weekend which we feel we did in the right and proper way," he said.

"We also adhered to the rules and regulations of the competition and the communication from Fifa prohibiting the FAW request for the players to wear the poppy symbol on the armbands or the field of play.

"We are particularly disappointed that one of the charges relates to supporters in the stands wearing poppies."

The Irish FA said it "will robustly defend the disciplinary charges".

It is understood that the wearing of poppies by supporters in the stands is not a charge that the IFA is facing, but investigations are being carried out into the holding of a minute's silence, the laying of a wreath and a poppy display by fans.

Northern Ireland supporters use cards to create the shape of a poppy
Northern Ireland supporters use cards to create the shape of a poppy before the meeting with Azerbaijan

Wales and Northern Ireland players wore plain black armbands during their respective matches.

The English and Scottish Football Associations are being investigated, after players wore poppies during their Armistice Day World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

Both teams' players wore black armbands with poppy emblems, after their associations said they would accept "any kind of sanction".

Fifa said reports of a ban on wearing poppies were a "distortion of the facts" and that its disciplinary committee acted independently.

Football's world governing body recently opened disciplinary proceedings over the Republic of Ireland's use of a logo during a friendly against Switzerland in March to commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising.

Wales fans' poppy display at Wales v Serbia
Wales fans create a poppy mosaic

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