LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday it was “utterly outrageous” that soccer’s governing body FIFA will not allow English and Scottish footballers to wear armbands featuring poppies during their World Cup qualifier on Nov. 11.
The Scottish FA said on Tuesday that FIFA had rejected a request by England and Scotland for their players to wear the armbands in commemoration of the armistice that ended World War One.
FIFA rules forbid players from wearing poppies as they are perceived as a political statement.
“I think the stance that’s been taken by FIFA is utterly outrageous,” May said in parliament when asked about the ban. “Our football players want to recognize and respect those who have given their lives for our safety and security. I think it is absolutely right that they should be able to do so.”
She added: “It is for our Football Association, but I think the clear message is going from this House (of Commons): we want our players to be able to wear those poppies.”
FIFA is trying to recover from the worst graft scandal in its history which has seen 42 people, including former FIFA executive committee members, indicted in the United States since May last year.
“I have to say to FIFA that before they start telling us what to do, they jolly well ought to sort their own house out,” said May.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and William James; editing by Stephen Addison)