DAVENTRY’S MP Chris Heaton-Harris has emerged as playing a key role in securing the home nations’ football teams the right to honour our soldiers over the weekend.
The Tory 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 at the weekend.
Mr Heaton-Harris 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.
Mr Heaton-Harris said: “I was reading the FIFA regulations and it was fairly obvious you could not have a poppy on the shirt – but that you could on an armband.
“I contacted someone close to FIFA and ended up speaking to Jerome Valcke on the phone and then the FA.
“There was a lot of stuff going on in the background with the Prime Minister and Prince William both writing to FIFA but I did have a small part to play.”
Shortly before the announcement was made last night, the MP went on Twitter and posted this message: “Looking fwd to a solution to FIFA & the FA’s poppy problem in the next few minutes. Simple solution - wear your heart on your sleeve...”
Downing Street was kept informed of the proposed deal throughout yesterday during which further pressure was exerted on FIFA by Prince William who in his role as FA President, wrote to the governing body expressing his dismay at the initial decision to bar the teams from wearing poppies.