Opinion

Published on November 1st, 2016 | by Shannon Gambling

Fifa blocking ‘political’ poppies is madness

By a quirk of the fixture list, Armistice Day on Friday, November 11th, sees England host Scotland in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley. 

Two British national teams who, of course, will want to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Traditionally, Remembrance Sunday weekend sees football clubs across the UK, their, fans, players and staff, coming together to show their respects.

Fifa, however, would rather England and Scotland didn’t make too much fuss when they renew international football’s oldest rivalry.

“Nothing is more powerful than the yearly tribute shown by thousands of people grouped together at a football match”

Football’s world governing body has remained defiant on refusing permission for poppies to be worn on players’ shirts, with president Gianni Infantino describing it as  “political” gesture.

Rare chance

For as long as I can remember, wearing the poppy has been something we can be proud of, and supporting one of the worthiest causes out there each year is something us football fans look forward to.

Nothing is more powerful than the annual tribute of a minute’s silence at stadia up and down the country.

“The Three Lions’ clash with Scotland for many has been seen as a rare chance to unite in tribute to the war dead at a home international.”

So for Fifa to step in and tell the Football Association and Scottish FA that their players cannot mark the anniversary of WWI ending – especially in a fixture between two of the home nations – is ludicrous.

The Three Lions’ clash with Scotland for many has been seen as a rare chance to unite in tribute to the war dead at a home international.

Personally, I don’t see how a poppy has any political, religious or commercial connotations? It’s a charity, a worthy cause and a mark of respect to those men and women who’ve passed away fighting for their country.

It about casualties from all sides, so really it shouldn’t be upsetting anybody. I can understand Fifa’s stance on political statements but this simply isn’t the case here.

Blocked

You would’ve thought a bit of common sense and flexibility on the part of Fifa would allow the wearing of poppies. But then again this is an organisation that’s notoriously inflexible.

poppy armbands

In 2011, Fifa allowed England to wear poppy armbands in a friendly against Spain

Not to mention corrupt. With all the bad press Fifa has had in recent years, you’d think it would be keen to win friends, not antagonise two of its oldest members.

Both Wales and Northern Ireland have also been blocked from allowing their players to wear poppies on their kits against Serbia and Azerbaijan respectively.

If England go ahead and flout the ban, the FA would likely face a fine but other sanctions could also be in store, with a points deduction possible.

However the FA have been urged to take Fifa on over the issue by Falklands veteran Simon Weston.

Tributes

Speaking to The Sun newspaper, he told the FA and SFA to “swallow any potential fine” rather than sacrifice the commemoration.

The 55-year old said: “The FAs of both ­Scotland and England should stand up and be counted.

“Both those countries took part in both World Wars and should take the lead. They should pay any fine Fifa give them. This is not a political gesture.”

The FA is currently in talks with Fifa over how they can add their own tributes to the day, which will see commemorations across Britain.The FA’s statement

Support

An FA statement read: “We are working closely with the Royal British Legion once again this year to honour and remember the sacrifices made by those serving in the armed forces.

theo walcott boots

Theo Walcott dons a poppy on his boots in 2011

“In recent weeks, the FA has led Remembrance discussions with Fifa to allow the England team to show its support for the poppy appeal during the World Cup qualifier with Scotland.”

Previously, in 2011, Fifa eventually backed down after threatening to ban the England team from wearing poppies in a friendly against Spain, allowing them to display the symbol on black armbands.

Many players wore the poppy on their boots to show their support.

David Cameron, prime minister at the time, also wrote to Fifa to urge the governing body to reconsider its stance. Hopefully, Theresa May will follow suit.

The British Legion’s red poppy has become a powerful symbol to remember servicemen and women killed in conflict.

In light of many negative opinions of the governing body in recent years, letting our national sides pay their respects is the least Infantino could do.

Tags: , , , , , ,


About the Author



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑

Skip to toolbar