FIFA Fines Teams For Honoring WWI's Fallen Soldiers

The league fined four countries' soccer programs for displaying a flower that's symbolized fallen soldiers for decades.
Posted at 3:54 PM, Dec 19, 2016

Is honoring soldiers who gave their lives a political statement? FIFA says yes. 

The international soccer league fined England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland's programs for displaying poppies during games on Nov. 11 — the anniversary of the end of World War I. 

The flower has long been a symbol of lives lost in the war, and for decades, the poppy has been used to raise money for veterans. 

But FIFA ruled the poppy is political in nature, and the league has strict rules against any political displays. 

If anything, FIFA's rules have gotten stricter. Five years ago, FIFA suggested the English national team wear poppy armbands to get around its ban on political symbols on uniforms. But now those same armbands are worthy of a fine. 

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A spokesman for the league said he respects the WWI commemorations, but rules are rules. However, others have noted far worse acts have received lighter fines. 

In May, seven national teams were fined for discriminatory chants by fans, some of which were homophobic. But only one of those countries got a higher fine than the one England received for its poppy armbands. 

American sports leagues have similarly strict rules. While the NFL may allow political speech on the field, it's fined players for altering their uniforms — whether it's to honor fallen family members or promote medical causes.