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Tory MP steps in to poppy dispute.

A CONSERVATIVE MP who qualified as a referee as a 12-year-old played a key role in securing FIFA's agreement to allow England players to wear poppies on their black armbands on Saturday.

An FA statement said: "The FA can confirm FIFA has agreed the England team will now be permitted to wear a poppy on the black armbands the players will wear during Saturday's match with Spain.

"While continuing to adhere to the laws of the game, wearing the poppy on the armband does ensure the poppy will be visible throughout the game.

"The FA welcomes FIFA's decision and thanks them for agreeing to this."

Chris Heaton-Harris, the MP for Daventry, studied FIFA's regulations and realised that, although they prohibited such symbols on team shirts of national teams, they would allow poppies to be on the armbands.

He contacted a FIFA adviser with the proposal and was put in touch with FIFA's secretary general Jerome Valcke and then spoke to Football Association executives to secure the agreement.

Heaton-Harris said last night: "I was reading the FIFA regulations and it was fairly obvious you could not have a poppy on the shirt - but you could on an armband.

"I contacted someone close to FIFA and ended up speaking to Jerome Valcke on the phone then the FA.

"There was a lot of stuff going on in the background today with the Prime Minister and Prince William both writing to FIFA, but I did have a small part to play."

Heaton-Harris said he hoped people would give FIFA credit for the decision - especially after two members of the English Defence League climbed on to the roof of FIFA headquarters to protest.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 10, 2011
Words:279
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