Today the English and Scottish FAs have decided to take a stand together against the hypercritic bureaucracy that is FA. That an organisation which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons over the last twenty-four months should tell the British national teams that they can’t wear a poppy armband is as Theresa May put it, outrageous.
Here in New Zealand Armistice Day isn’t observed as it is in Europe, instead Australian and Kiwi soldiers are remembered on Anzac Day in April and I can imagine the outrage if any World Sporting Body dared to suggest poppies could not be displayed in memory of those who gave their lives for us.
Anzac and Armistice Day are not political, personal or religious events, as dictated by FIFA’s rules, but a way of remembering and saying thank you, similar to the black armbands worn to remember a person close to the club or to the game. Therefore, to make wearing a poppy into a political argument is nothing more than scandalous and just goes to show FIFA are still concentrating on the wrong things, even after their much vaunted regime change.
In a game riddled with self-serving clubs, avaricious agents and spoilt professionals shouldn’t the decision on whether a nation wants to give thanks to their fallen be at the bottom of their agenda. In the past FIFA has allowed the Home Nations to wear a poppy armband and there were no complaints or protests around the world and even as recently the Republic of Ireland were allowed to wear a slogan celebrating the century of the Easter Rising.
The following day at Twickenham the England rugby team will enter the field with poppies on their shirts and the Rugby authorities have been described as very supportive so why should football be any different?
So please FIFA for once see common sense and, although it may be embarrassing to your new regime, do a u-turn and let the Home Nations wear a poppy if they want to.