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Volume 10 No. 24

International Football

The ban on poppies being worn during England and other home nations' matches will be "scrapped in a major victory for the British game," according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. A "climbdown" by FIFA will allow all four countries to commemorate Armistice Day during int'l week in November without being punished for doing so, including at a planned Wembley friendly between England and Germany. The FA and its Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts "were fined over their remembrance activities last year, despite having previously been permitted to mark the occasion." Following a backlash against FIFA's change of stance -- which the PM branded "utterly outrageous" -- and a set of appeals which "threatened to go all the way" to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the world governing body finally agreed to allow countries to commemorate "a significant national or international event" (TELEGRAPH, 9/25). The BBC's Richard Conway reported FIFA is understood to have sent out a draft proposal to its member nations last week with "revised provisions that could see the poppy permitted if opposing teams and the competition organiser for the relevant match both accept its use in advance." The new law is "expected to be passed" in time for November's int'l games. England players are "now expected to either wear armbands with a poppy on them or have the poppy embroidered on their shirts in the same way as Premier League teams." The FA declined to comment until the decision to change the game's laws has been "fully ratified" (BBC, 9/25). In London, Martha Kelner reported FIFA's new proposal concerning "political" symbols on shirts "amounts to a relaxation over the rules on poppies." A ban remains on slogans or images "related to individual people or groups, political parties or governing bodies." It is noted that "when commemorating a significant national or international event, the sensibilities of the opposing team [including their supporters] and the general public should be carefully considered." The English and Scottish FAs appealed the fines totaling £51,000 ($68,697) for displaying poppies last year. Those fines have reportedly "not yet been paid and will be wiped" if the proposed change to the rule is approved by the FIFA and the Int'l FA Board (GUARDIAN, 9/24).

FA CEO Martin Glenn has been "given a vote of confidence by the board for his handling of Mark Sampson's dismissal" as England's women's national team manager, according to Matt Slater of the PA. The board met at Wembley on Monday for the "first time since the furore surrounding Sampson arose" and the matter was "discussed at length." The FA said, "A number of questions were raised around the historic processes which the board has asked the executive to look into further with the appropriate external legal support. The board is confident that, consistent with the substantial positive change under the leadership of (chairman) Greg Clarke and Martin Glenn, the right procedures are in place to prevent a similar issue arising now or in the future." Sampson was sacked last Wednesday for "inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour" in his previous role as manager of Bristol Academy (PA, 9/25).

INVITATIONS ACCEPTED: In London, Jason Burt reported footballers Eniola Aluko and Lianne Sanderson will give evidence to the investigation by MPs into the allegations of racism and bullying made against Sampson. The pair "accepted the invitations extended to them" by the Select Committee for Culture, Media & Sport which will also question FA execs at next month's hearing. Among those "under scrutiny" is Glenn. FA Technical Dir Dan Ashworth is "also in the spotlight over the role he played in Sampson's appointment and his tenure with England" (TELEGRAPH, 9/25).

Officials from the Gulf Arab states boycotting Qatar "did not turn up" to the draw for a Middle East football tournament in Doha on Monday and want to postpone the competition that could be an "early test" for the 2022 World Cup hosts. The Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation said that requests by the UAE and Bahrain to delay December's Gulf Nations Cup "had been rejected" (REUTERS, 9/25).

The Argentine national women’s team has "gone on strike, citing structural problems and a lack of basic resources to properly train and play matches." The strike is an "embarrassment" for the newly-formed Argentine FA management team. A team statement said that it "attempted to discuss concerns regarding lack of payment, poor training conditions and poor travel arrangements" with the AFA, but was ignored (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 9/25).

South Korea's scheduled friendly against Tunisia has been canceled, the Korea FA said Monday, "with Morocco having emerged as the likely replacement." The KFA said that Tunisia pulled out of its commitment last Friday citing "internal reasons." The two had been set to face each other Oct. 10 in Switzerland (YONHAP, 9/25).