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England football association to appeal FIFA poppy fine

England's national soccer association is to appeal the $44,000 fine from FIFA after displaying poppies during World Cup qualifying matches in November.

The matches which involved England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales were all played in November around Remembrance Sunday, when Britain pays its respects to the victims of World War I and II.

In its judgment fining England 45,000 Swiss francs ($44,000 / 42,000 euros), the world governing body for soccer said the offense was a "display of a political symbol" on players' shirts and around the stadium during the match against Scotland. Part of the fine also covered crowd misconduct.

"Keeping in mind that the rules need to be applied in a neutral and fair manner across FIFA's 211-member associations, the display, among others, of any political or religious symbol is strictly prohibited," Claudio Sulser, head of FIFA's disciplinary committee said. "In the stadium and on the pitch, there is only room for sport, nothing else."

"We note the decision by the FIFA disciplinary committee which we intend to appeal," the English FA commented via social media.

"As a first step we have written to FIFA requesting the grounds for the decision." Last month, the head of the FA, Martin Glenn had previously said its legal case was "absolutely rock solid."

The UK prime minister's office described FIFA's actions as "disappointing." Theresa May's official spokeswoman said: "FIFA don't seem to have recognized the sentiment behind poppies - that they are not a political symbol, but are about recognizing with pride the role that our brave servicemen and women play."

Additional fines

The Scottish federation was also fined 20,000 Swiss francs for displaying the same symbol, and for crowd problems. The Welsh federation was fined 20,000 Swiss francs for displaying political symbols in their match against Serbia.

Northern Ireland was fined 15,000 Swiss francs for the same offense in their match against Azerbaijan.

In a separate case, Ireland was fined 5,000 Swiss francs for using a logo commemorating the centenary of the Easter Rising during a friendly against Switzerland in March. The Easter Rising, which took place in April 1916, was an Irish rebellion against British rule.

In a statement, the Irish association said: "The Irish FA will examine the full written submission when it is released and will take further legal advice before deciding on a future course of action."

In other FIFA decisions on Monday, Romania was fined for a firework thrown at Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, Greece was sanctioned for a banner held by a fan with a message against Bosnia-Herzegovina which referred to the Srebrenica massacre, and Chile was penalized again because of the anti-gay slurs chanted by its fans.

jm/cmk (Reuters, AP)

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