The FA have failed in their attempt to overturn a decision restricting England’s players to display the Poppy symbol when they come face to face against Spain on Saturday.
The Three Lions face the current European and World Champions at Wembley one day after the nation remembers those who lost lives during the War, however despite football league clubs from across the country proudly sporting the Armistice Day emblem on their kits last weekend, the international governing body FIFA, has moved to prevent England from doing the same in their friendly encounter, citing political issues for their reasoning.
A spokesman for FIFA said:
“FIFA’s regulations regarding players’ equipment are that they should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages. FIFA has 208 Member Associations and the same regulations are applied globally, and uniformly, in the event of similar requests by other nations to commemorate historical events.”
Every year on November 11th as a mark of respect and honour, the country far and wide unites in supporting the armed forces as silences are undertaken and a collection is made for the poppy appeal. This year the appeal – which is run by the Royal British Legion and helps current and ex-servicemen and women and their families – is in its 90th year, unfortunately the new ruling by football’s hierarchy means the tributes can not be continued on the pitch on the eve of remembrance Sunday.
Despite the ban, the spokesman also said that FIFA acknowledges the importance of the Poppy Appeal and how it commemorates Remembrance Day every year, however the move has sparked fury amongst fans, players and the general public. One veteran who fought during the Second World War was lost for words but reckons FIFA are being childish as they, and indeed football, would not exist if it wasn’t for the soldiers putting themselves on the line.
The majority of supporters also seem to be of a similar opinion. One fan who has been following the national team for almost 30 years says it is disrespectful not just to England but for other countries to boot. Gary Strudwick, 28, from South Yorkshire provided an interesting scenario to the debate, as he exclaimed:
“I don’t see why they (FIFA) wouldn’t allow the displaying of the Poppy because it isn’t just our soldiers that it is meant for. I think the England players should just wear them anyway and if they do get fined ask FIFA if they can pay it as a donation to the appeal.”
Mr Strudwick went on to say that money and publicity is a big issue and that any other sort of income, besides that provided by sponsorship, could cause a worry for FIFA.
A fan who travelled to Wembley to witness England’s 2-1 defeat against France on 17th November last year also gave an insight into the debacle. The man, who has supported the team for more than 20 years, believes that while FIFA are right to implement rules and regulations, it is still a joke that our country is being victimised on this occasion. In his strong views he quipped:
“It’s a joke, I understand that there are rules that do not allow things like this on shirts i.e. religion etc, however I feel FIFA are anti-English and this is just another incident which has given English football fans cause to dislike FIFA even more.”
Whatever the outcome with the pleas for a change of heart, the FA say the team will wear poppies when they train at Wembley ahead of the match on Armistice Day. An FA spokesman confirmed:
“The FA are proud supporters of our armed forces and we are only too pleased to recognise those that have sacrificed their lives for the nation.
“The England senior team will proudly wear poppies on their training kit and all our staff and representative teams will stop to observe the Armistice Day silence.”
The situation as only sufficed to attract positive attention to the main event, as a sell-out crowd has already been declared for the hotly-anticipated clash.