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The Royal British Legion on FIFA poppy ban

9 November 2011

The Royal British Legion, national Custodian of Remembrance and organiser of the Poppy Appeal, today praised the Football Association's efforts to ensure that the dedication and sacrifice of British Armed Forces is observed when England meets Spain in friendly competition.

Referring to the FIFA ban on poppies being worn on England's shirts, Director General of The Royal British Legion Chris Simpkins said: "There are other ways to honour the poppy than by wearing it on a shirt. The FA has helped us explore every alternative available and we are satisfied that England will enter the competition knowing they have shown proper respect for our Armed Forces."

Working closely with the Legion, FA officials have arranged for a full Two Minute Silence during the training session and a One Minute Silence before the international match, during which a poppy wreath will be laid. Players will wear black armbands in recognition of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Service to the nation.

The Royal British Legion has kindly been offered space within Wembley Stadium for poppy images and messages of support. These will be visible to all supporters and viewers at home.

The FA has also kindly invited Poppy Appeal collectors to be present at the match.

"The Legion never insists that the poppy be worn or insists that others allow it to be worn," said Mr Simpkins. "We are grateful when people wear it as a sign of respect, but the decision must be a free one - after all, the poppy represents sacrifices made in the cause of our freedoms."

He added that the Legion was grateful for the football supporters and commentators who had expressed support of our Armed Forces in response to the FIFA ban. "This is not a dispute between FIFA and The Royal British Legion," he said. "It's an issue between FIFA and the British public, which is how it should be."

The Poppy Appeal, supporting the nation's leading Armed Forces charity, has been backed by all 20 Premiership clubs this year wearing the poppy on their shirts.

"The bonds between the Armed Forces and professional football are as broad as they are long," said Mr Simpkins. "The cooperation we've received from the FA and the FAW has been top drawer and we'll be happy for this match to proceed."

The Royal British Legion is the nation's leading Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. It is also the national Custodian of Remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces. It is best known for the annual Poppy Appeal and its emblem the red poppy --

For further information contact:
Bethan Herbert, PR Officer, The Royal British Legion
 T: 020 3207 2237 M: 07780 955544 E:

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