In recent days we’ve seen headlines such as David Cameron slams ‘outrageous’ poppy ban by Fifa on England shirt after it emerged that Fifa officials turned down the special request, made by the Football Association, claiming it would “open the door to similar initiatives” across the world.
A letter from Fifa to the FA sent on Tuesday said:
“We regret to inform you that accepting such initiatives would open the door to similar initiatives from all over the world, jeopardising the neutrality of football. Therefore, we confirm herewith that the suggested embroidery on the match shirt cannot be authorised. There are a variety of options where the FA can continue supporting the cause of remembrance. One of them already was approved by Fifa, the period of silence.”
Fifa’s rules prevent anything of a political nature being worn on shirts and, although the organisation does not regard poppies as political, it is concerned it would open the door to countries wanting to wear various different emblems on their shirts, some of which would be overtly political.
The sports minister Hugh Robertson also wrote to Fifa urging them to reconsider. Robertson’s letter said:
“We fully understand, and respect, Fifa’s rules on its member nations not adorning their shirts with ‘commercial’, ‘political’, or ‘religious’ symbols or messages. The FA and FAW do not intend to contravene these rules. However, the British public feel very strongly about this issue which is seen as an act of national remembrance to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of their country. It is not religious or political in any way.”
The FA have released a statement:
The FA would like to clarify that the organisation and England players at all levels will be showing their respect and marking Remembrance Day in a number of ways.
We have been working closely with the Royal British Legion who have welcomed our support. We can confirm that:
- The England players will wear black armbands during the Spain game on Saturday
- The FA will place a poppy wreath on the pitch during the national anthems
- There will be a one-minute silence ahead of kick-off
- Players will wear training tops with embroidered poppies on match day
- Players will wear poppy-embossed anthem jackets during the national anthems
- Military representatives will be in the presentation party prior to kick-off
- The FA has donated 500 England v Spain tickets to ‘Tickets for Troops’, for members of the armed forces, and 1,000 tickets for the England v Sweden game on Tuesday (this is standard FA policy for Wembley matches)
- The England senior squad will train at Wembley on Friday ahead of the Spain game. They will observe the two-minute silence at 11am, all wearing training tops embossed with poppies. This session will be broadcast live
- The training tops embossed with poppies will be passed onto forces’ charities post-match as auction items for fund raising
- The poppy will be visible around Wembley on Saturday, on the scoreboards and advertising boards, and poppy sellers will be in the stadium to allow supporters to donate to the poppy fund and show their support
- On Thursday, England Under-21s play Iceland in Colchester and England U19s play Denmark in Brighton. All players and staff will be wearing poppies pre- and post-match
- Both the Under-21s and U19s will observe a one-minute silence, too, at their games – the Under-21s will do so alongside troops from Colchester barracks.
The decision by FIFA doesn’t seem a well thought out decision, common sense seems to have stopped in an overly politically correct world where everyone is scared of offending someone else. I believe the poppy should be allowed on the England shirt. However, I don’t remember teams wearing poppies on their shirts before this year. The thing that I have remembered is the minute’s silence and the honouring of troops and retired troops.
What do you think?