The FA, Fifa and the whole poppy debacle
There’s a big hullabaloo taking place over the decision by Fifa to not allow the Football Association to embroider remembrance poppies on England shirts for the forthcoming humiliating 4-0 defeat against Spain this weekend. Some have called for the FA to ignore the ruling but Fifa has instructed the referee to abandon the match if the players are wearing the emblem, which would somewhat negate any gain in doing so.
Of course, the right-wing brigade have jumped on this. The Daily Mail have it as their third-top story of the day, despite the fact the decision has already been made. A footnote for you, the story is third to “Are Olympics chiefs ASHAMED of our military history?” (no, I wouldn’t have thought so) and “Frankie kicked off X Factor over ‘cocaine boasts'” (a man of whom we’ll hear nothing about from 4-6 weeks time, forevermore).
A two-minute silence will take place before the game, as is usual for football matches close to or on the 11th November, but it’s the poppy thing that has got the media so annoyed.
Fifa fully acknowledges the significance of the poppy appeal and the ways in which it helps commemorate Remembrance Day.
But, on the subject of wearing the emblem on the matchday kit:
Players’ equipment are that they should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages. The same regulations are applied globally, and uniformly, in the event of similar requests by other nations to commemorate historical events.
I can see where they’re coming from. If they flouted this rule, what’s to stop another national association putting a symbol on a shirt that may offend people? It’s not a far jump from this to political symbols. In fact, some may say that a poppy is a political symbol already, especially with the to-ing and fro-ing over this decision (the FA are still trying to get the decision overturned). As a user named Pinkman says on The Guardian website:
It’s an entirely sensible move from FIFA, one of the very few times you can say that. It’d open up a huge can of worms if they allowed England to do this.
Not that this would happen, but imagine if Serbia emblazoned their shirt with an emblem remembering their troops that died in the Kosovo War. It’d cause a shitstorm of controversy.
The poppy is a fairly uncontroversial symbol to most, but that’s not the point. FIFA shouldn’t have to evaluate the merits of each different cause when deciding what can go on a shirt. It’s a game – it’s not a political rally.
Here’s another comment from The Guardian’s website, by a user named CLM76:
Christ alive this whole thing is so lame. What will happen if England’s players don’t have a poppy on their shirts? Will we all suddenly magically forget the sacrifices made in the wars?
Well, they’ve never had them before presumably, what with it being AGAINST FIFA RULES and everything, so I guess, er, everything will go on as it always has.
To the people on Twitter saying that poppies on an England shirt is the FREEDOM OUR FOREFATHERS DIED FOR… If you really believe that, I suggest you take a long hard look at yourself. And bear in mind that if FIFA allows this, there will be a precedent set, and a case that every tuppenny ha’penny cause should be allowed on the shirt of any country that asks for it.
I agree entirely with both of these. On the other hand, this comment from the Daily Mail website by Jaide (permalink not available), says:
There should never be a ban on wearing a poppy. I think Fifa need to back down and apologise for being so disrespectful to the men and women who have lost their lives fighting for the protection of this country.
Although can see her point, but it’s just the can of worms that it would open makes the whole thing more harmful than good.
I wear a poppy and have visited the battlefields, museums and graveyards of Ypres and the surrounding area. I’ve changed my Twitter picture to a photo I took of the Menin gate and have one of those ‘Twibbon’ things with a poppy on it. My Grandma used to sell poppies outside her local supermarket. I used to go around the school I attended selling poppies, so I’m in agreement that people should wear their poppy with pride, if they agree with the statement it makes. However, for sport to get involved and for pressure to be put on the organisations involved is not on.
Politics and sport shouldn’t mix, although they do on a daily basis.
Perhaps the final say should fall to the Royal British Legion, who run the Poppy Appeal:
We appreciate that showing support is not always possible under some regulations and we would never seek to impose ourselves in these situations.
EDIT: Now the far-right-wing brigade have got themselves involved. Just what this whole thing needs, eh? See the article headlined EDL stage roof-top protest at Fifa headquarters over poppy ban.