England, as well as some of the less Green Brigade minded parts of Scotland, have risen in anger this week after FIFA confirmed that they would face a sanction for wearing a poppy on their shirts.
The law in question, Law 4. para. 4, outlaws the display of "political, religious or personal statements" on players' equipment.
This is the rule that's causing all the aggro.
That particular rule was proposed by none other than the Football Association themselves (the English one).
That's not the only irony here. The FA, according to Ian Herbert in the Independent.co.uk, triggered the controversy by establishing with FIFA that wearing armbands was acceptable. They assumed they'd receive the okay.
FIFA, as Ireland is aware, is not especially vigorous when it comes to enforcing this rule. The friendly which has resulted in Ireland being charged by FIFA today took place over seven months ago.
It's been suggested that had the FA kept quiet about it, they might have gotten away with wearing poppies. (Though the England-Scotland qualifier might have attracted more notice than an Ireland-Switzerland friendly in late March.)
FIFA Secretary General, Fatma Samoura, who's been treated to an especially salty profile from the Sun, observed this week.
It is not really my ambition to punish anybody. They just have to recognise that they are part of the rules of the game and they should be ready to face any kind of measures or sanctions against. They know better than me because they made the law.
The Football Association's stance is that the poppy is not a political symbol but a symbol of remembrance. Assessing whether something constitutes a "political symbol" is a tricky business. James McClean, needless to say, finds the poppy a very political symbol.
Ireland were dragged into this a couple of days ago.
After a tip-off from a Rangers supporter (@chiefseulu) on Twitter, Conservative MP Damian Collins drew attention to Ireland's special commemorative jersey worn against Switzerland on Good Friday.
— John (@chiefseulu) November 2, 2016
The jersey contained the Irish government's official Easter 1916 commemorative logo. Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Collins complained of double standards and wrote to FIFA asking them to clarify why they'd allowed the Irish jersey.
This appears to have precipitated FIFA's move against Ireland today.
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) November 2, 2016
One presumes that those protesting the double standards don't necessarily want Ireland charged but rather want the poppy to be allowed.
Although, it's also possible that some (not necessarily Collins) would see the Irish jersey as an endorsement of a 'terrorist enterprise' and the poppy as honouring brave British soldiers. The DUP's Nelson McCausland, for instance, tore strips off the FAI over the Easter Rising jersey last March.
“The uncritical endorsement of the rebellion by the government and others in the Irish Republic, including the Football Association of Ireland, reinforces a republican narrative which has, down the years, drawn young people into the IRA and other republican terrorist organisations.”
McCausland was quoted in a Sun article on the topic today. In the same article, the Sun demanded to know why the Easter Rising jerseys were allowed and the poppy banned.
Around 1600 Irish republicans seized buildings in Dublin on Easter Monday in a fight for independence from British rule. Meanwhile, hero Brits were dying fighting the Germans in France. Troops eventually crushed the rebellion and 15 leaders were captured and executed.
Cheers to Anthony O'Brien for picture.