On Saturday 12th November, England will commemorate Remembrance Day with a minute’s silence before their game against Spain; however, the FA has been thwarted in its attempt to field a team wearing shirts displaying poppy badges.
The preceding week of Premier League fixtures has seen clubs incorporating the poppy in their kits, and the FA intended to do the same for England’s closest match to Remembrance Sunday, but have been told they are not allowed to do so by world governing body FIFA, as it
contravenes their laws on the display of messages on official kits.
FIFA has acknowledged the significance of poppies as an act of remembrance, but said in a statement, ‘Players’ equipment…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.’ The decision has led many to accuse FIFA of being callous and disrespectful (and being FIFA, it is very easy to accept that they are indeed thoughtless and stupid); however, the FA
is yet to be questioned as to why this issue has arisen so close to the game. Surely the FA is aware of FIFA regulations? If they are, did they expect FIFA to not enforce them?
Despite FIFA’s decision some still hold out hope that the poppies will be allowed, with the FA saying they are still ‘in dialogue’ with FIFA, and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson writing to FIFA’s Jerome Valcke to say, ‘the British public feel very strongly about this issue… It is
not religious or political in any way… Wearing a poppy is a display of national pride, just like wearing your country’s football shirt.’
In the midst of the hysteria, a spokesman for The Poppy Appeal said, ‘We appreciate that showing support is not always possible under some regulations and we would never seek to impose ourselves in these situations.’
To listen to some you would think that FIFA is attempting to ban all commemoration; but England’s training kits will be adorned with poppies and a minute’s silence will be observed. There will be remembrance – just not the remembrance the FA wanted.
By Peter Simpson