Often Partisan


Before reading this, I will warn you A) it’s not primarily about Blues and B) it’s a bit of an emotive subject. You may not agree with what I say but please be respectful when commenting.

So FIFA have apparently “backed down” and have decided that they will allow England to wear poppies embroidered on their black armbands during Saturday’s friendly with Spain. It’s a bit of a compromise, and from reading my Facebook feed it would appear that for some people it’s not enough of one either – but it does mean that the players will be able to wear their poppies with pride. I understand that this point of view may be controversial, but I am going to say here and now that I agreed with FIFA’s original point that the poppy shouldn’t be displayed on the team shirt during the game.

Don’t get me wrong, I do support the Poppy Appeal. Although I don’t wear one myself (because I’m prone to losing them and/or sticking myself with the pin), I do put money in the collection tin; I will stand silently on Sunday at 11am (whilst watching the ceremony from the Cenotaph), and I will try to think of those that died in the name of the country during those two minutes. I think it’s important that we remember those who volunteered to fight and fell.

The thing is though, wearing poppies on a football shirt is a recent thing. A very recent thing, as in it’s only been happening in the last few years – yet poppies have been worn in memory of the fallen since 1921. In 1987, England beat Yugoslavia away 4-1 on the 11th November – a game I can actually remember. There’s video footage of it right here and as you can see, there are no poppies on the shirts there, nor black armbands. What’s changed since 1987 to make it disrespectful of FIFA to demand that England players don’t have poppies on their shirts?

I guess it’s a populist thing in many ways. The tide of public opinion is now behind remembering those who have fought in the country’s name, and to remember those that have been left behind. The poppy appeal is probably one of the best known and most visible appeals in this country right now, and thus it’s an emotive subject for many. David Cameron got involved, Prince William got involved. However, that doesn’t mean that the FA were definitely right and that FIFA were wrong. How would English people feel if the Argentina national team wore something on their shirts to commemorate the deaths of Argentine soldiers in the Falklands conflict?  Or how about footballers from the middle east wearing something on their shirts to remember civilian deaths in the war on terror? Those symbols would be equally as apolitical as a poppy, and equally as emotive.

What’s all this got to do with football – absolutely nothing. That’s kind of the point, really. I’d much rather buckets were passed around Wembley (which they probably will be), money donated from the appearance fees of players (which already all goes to charities anyway) and that people remembered the reasons for wearing a poppy. After all, the poppy is just an emblem – it’s the thought behind wearing it that counts and people seem to have forgotten that.

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29 Responses to “Poppies”

  • geodude says:

    you should’ve posted the long list of things the FA were already doing. was it not enough?

  • JohnR says:

    I respect your opinion butt totally disagree. Wearing a poppy is an act of remembrance for those service men and women who have been killed in wars. It has nothing to do with FIFA if the FA want to put a poppy on the England shirts. It is FIFA who are making a political issue of it, they should stick to football matters.
    I accept this is a recent thing but it is because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the number of dead from these wars is more in the public consciousness and therefore the poppy is more significant than ever.

  • James says:

    yeah i agree with this. Unfortunately, all wars whether you like it or not are political. The people fighting in them may not know the nature of the politics but the politicians who sent them there certainly do. So this could set a precedent and in a few years time depending how things go the Afghani national team might want to wear something to commemorate Taliban fighters who died fighting UK forces. And you raise a good point about it being a recent and populist thing – this has probably got to do with the recent wars and Wootton Bassett effect etc. Just lets get on with the football! Unfortunately I can see Spain putting 5 past us on Saturday

  • john says:

    The Poppy raises awareness to the youth and ignorant of this country who have no idea what the Forces did and are doing to make a better life for us.
    England v Spain is sold out and will be watched by millions around Europe if not the World.
    Wearing Poppies on the shirts is the best way to bring the plight to a huge audience.
    What I don’t understand is why they are allowed the poppie on armbands and not the shirt. Same difference really. The benefit of the shirt would be that it would raise more money at aution/charity nights.

  • chris says:

    I generally agree with the article, imagine Eire playing England of which I support both being half and half and Eire having some memorial to the original IRA which was a just freedom fighting army just like those resistant fighters in France during the 2nd world war, or the ANP in South Africa, or America during the war with Britain etc, etc.
    I would love to go to an Eire v England game but the animosity from small sections on both side’s stops me from enjoying what should be a great game. The opposite is true when Ireland play England at rugby, which is a great atmosphere.
    Though how many here would be up in arms and small minded about it.
    For me the poppy is to remember and forgive and to raise money for those disabled and suffering from their injuries.
    It is not about the politics of the conflict is about the individual person, just like you and me from anywhere in the world that has been killed / injured in a situation caused by megalomaniacs or governments, who have no care for the little man or woman who does their dirty work.
    I will remember those fallen on all sides.
    Imagine Iran v Iraq and some symbols being worn concerning their ten year war or Serbia v Bosnia or Croatia, the wrong message or symbols could cause unrest in those countries, fighting at the ground or even on the pitch.
    I presume this is what FIFA are worried about and I think this is a good compromise and a first step to something else next year or thereafter. Patience will prosper the cause.

  • Mr Blue Sky says:

    Some of you should learn what the poppy really means, it’s not just ‘Our’ Fallen that are being remembered, it is the fallen on all sides. So don’t use the analogy of terrorists, and other conflicts, it’s not about remebering wars it’s about honouring the dead, from whatever conflict they fell!

  • Oldburyblue says:

    The campaign for RESPECT in the game does not only apply to colour. I have respect for anyone willing to lay down their life for their Country…irrespective of what Country that is. Are you saying that the people of Argentina, Germany or any other Country should be prevented from remembering THEIR dead as we do ours if they so choose?

    • almajir says:

      I’m saying that if Argentina were to wear an emblem on their shirts on April 2nd (which is the day they commemorate the fallen, specifically in the Falklands War), then it might not go down well and some people may well feel offended here.

      I agree about respecting the dead etc – don’t get me wrong, I massively agree that we should remember those that gave their lives but I think that there are more honourable ways of doing it than demanding an emblem on a football shirt.

  • AR says:

    I really would not be offended at all if the Argentinian side wore something to commemorate their dead, including those who fell in the Falklands War; as long as what they wore wasn’t anti-British. I’m pleased with the resurgence of wearing poppies & though we haven’t worn them on football shirts in the past, it brings the wearing of them to a wider audience. Because we didn’t wear them in previous matches is not a reason for not wearing them now.

  • James says:

    Mr Blue Sky – The poppy is a British (or at least commonwealth) symbol. Other countries chose different days and different ways to commemorate Rememberance day…The poppy is not a universal symbol and is actually infact divisive in other countries – especially were British forces have been involved in combat there. Football tries to transcend these issues and FIFA were 1000% right to do what they do and the poppy will only be worn as a technicality – don’t be surprised to see new rules about what can be worn on an armband! It’s a shame we’ve tried to set this precedent and lead everyone down the slippery slope, lets respect the dead and not use them as an excuse to get one over FIFA!

  • Oldburyblue says:

    I must take issue with you Almajir about April 2. Why shouldn’t the Argentinian players show respect to their fallen if they played on that date? We wear our poppies to show our respect for our Armed Services NOT our Government. Death is death…..for both sides of any war. Our Services don’t choose who to fight, they just do their Duty. Your choice of example of The Falklands War is even worse due to the fact that a large proportion of the Argentinian Army were conscripts who probably didn’t even want to be in The Army, let alone fight.

    • almajir says:

      And I absolutely agree with you – but many people don’t see it that way. I only had to listen to a conversation in the pub last night to see what the reaction would be – and it wouldn’t be good. I understand that you, like pretty much all of the people who comment on here are a reasonable person… but there are a helluva lot of unreasonable people out there.

  • Oldburyblue says:

    So the majority have to bow to the wishes of the minority AGAIN?

  • James says:

    Actually the contary. The rest of the world being the majority and we are the minority. Also, lets stop trying to force our beliefs on other people aswell….something we usually give the muslims a hard time for

  • dean64 says:

    Disgaracefull Europe and the rest of the world would not exist in its current form if it were not for all those brave soldiers who paid the ultimate price FIFA get youre head from up your Arse pay respect where it is due.

    James get real this is a game of football between 2 european countries played the day after remembrance day which minority are we offending the jews,muslims,hindu or christians if the war had not been won none of them would exist its not about belief its about respect.

    • almajir says:

      Like the respect shown in your comment for this site (and despite me asking for people to be respectful in their comments at the top of the article)?

      If you’re going to be critical, try being a bit more constructive – further abuse won’t be tolerated.

    • James says:

      Oh Dean leave it out mate. A LOT of places in this world would be a lot different had the British Armed Forces not got ‘involved’ …Unfortunately not all wars we’ve been involved in have been ‘Good Wars’ so I’m sorry to inform you but the rest of the world doesn’t wake up every morning blessing themselves that British soldiers have gone to war around the world at various stages over the last 100 years… anyway thats all I’m saying. I don’t want to get dragged into the trenches, RIP to those who lost their lives in all wars and on all sides

    • Mike says:

      You literally have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • Oldburyblue says:

    James….since when has anyone tried to force their beliefs on others by the wearing of a poppy? We are talking about freedom here. As I would respect your decision not to buy or wear a poppy I would expect you to respect my freedom to do so. We are talking about a British team, playing in Britain, wishing to carry out a legal symbolic gesture. FIFA are stopping them. Who is forcing their beliefs on who in this case?

  • Dom says:

    Agree completely with this article but in my experience if you put this logical point of view forward people shoot you down for ‘Not caring about soldiers’. There will be more then enough happening at Wembley to commemorate remembrance day what does wearing poppies on the shirt really achieve? I’m sure the charity would be more grateful of the money from the FA anyway.

  • Martin Liveley says:

    Now Now Girls Calm Down show a bit of respect, dont make this into an argument, we all have our own veiws, each to their own. i for one am proud of the forces/allied too. Remember 11.11. 11/11/11.

  • Letsby Avenue says:

    The first poppy was made in New York. After World War 1, as a direct response to the Flander’s Field poem by John Macrea.
    A french lady called Guerin whilst visiting the USA saw and heard about this “remembrance” using the poppy as a symbol, and on her return to France began to hand make the first red poppy as we know it today.

    Probably the first fund raising artifact in moder History. It was later introduced to the UK and virtually hi-jacked by Haig’s family in their attempts to re-install his disastrous reputation.

    So it isn’t a “Brit” thing. Likewise it isn’t an Australian or Canadian thing. All countries using the poppy as a symbol of remembrance tend to use the funds for their OWN charities.

    It isn’t an International fund raiser – like Save The Children etc.

    For FIFA to ban it from the shirt, was in accordance with their existing rules.
    Nothing in the national shirt if any country.

    AS AJ says, the FA could have, since the 1920s canvassed for the poppy. They could have worn the poppy before the “rules” got so involved.
    But they didn’t, and the FA are now using the precedent of domestic clubs that wear the poppy as a reason.

    Like AJ I put money into the tins – but will not wear a poppy because of Haig.
    In that respect, people like AJ, many old soldiers who feel the same, for whatever reason, we probably put into more tins because we are not displaying a poppy.
    Whereas one bought poppy probably protects the wearer from donating more than once.


    The poppy is about remembrance of the fallen. Not a tool to try and spin good PR for a dinosuar body like the FA.

  • Dirty Bertie says:

    The last refuge of the scoundrel.

    The country’s in a mess, and we can’t blame the workers so let’s distract them with something emotive. Done benefit cheats and immigration so let’s do Johnny Foreigner telling us what we can and can’t do. That’ll get them going.

    Meanwhile… did you know that the collective noun for bankers is a Wunch? As in a wunch of bankers. Do not forget them too, make them pay for a change.

  • john says:

    if the FA had a modicum of intergirty the’d have told the FIFA low life where to go, and if needs be cancelled he game.

  • Bluenosesol says:

    I am distraught because a s a youth I always believed that when my generation became the ruling generation, that we were of a new school and that war would be consigned to history. Events have proven me wrong. I detest all wars and all politicans who put people’s lives on the line whilst tending their acres of Kensington gardens. That said, I love and respect the brave souls who put their life on the line in the belief they are protecting my freedom. I wear my poppy with pride. I also believe that however we wish to respect our war hero’s is no business of FIFA’s. I would wear the poppy on our shirts and to hell with the consequences.

    • Mike says:

      Actually, FIFA get to run their business exactly the way they like as long as it’s within the law. (Despite the clear corruption in FIFA, this point remains true.) If they don’t want teams wearing particular symbols then the teams should fall in line. Nothing makes England special.

  • Bluenosejohn says:

    If FIFA want to get of something that is jingoistic and often has a dig at other nationalities then lets abolish the national anthems before games instead of an apolitical symbol like the poppy.

  • Mike Hodder says:

    If a poppy on a shirt or an armband is acceptable, then, by the same token, you have to accept that a swastika is acceptable to.

    Symbols have power, whichever side of the fence you sit on, and bringing them into sport, regardless of what those symbols mean, is to open the way for symbols that have less honourable purposes.

  • DoctorD says:

    I have to say I agree with FIFA.

    Since when has a sporting field been about highlighting the current issue of the day whatever that is? And who decides what that issue should be?

    The point is, if you let poppies in, where does it stop? Mementos marking the death of Jimmy Saville? Logos highlighting the M5 tragedy? Insignia for the deaths in the Turkey earthquake?

    Football should be politically neutral. And it isn’t when a Conservative PM weighs in: Cameron should have stayed out of the debate and the fact that he hasn’t has made the situation political, if it wasn’t already.

    I’m all for commemorating the loss of life, but on a football field that should only be when there is a direct connection with football, like Hillsborough, Heysel or Bradford.

    The whole premise of the poppy debate is a sort of inverse political correctness: if you’re not wearing a poppy, it’s a terrible and awful thing. I kind of fear this whole “Movemeber” think could go that way too: if you’ve not got a ‘tache, then you’re an evil heartless git. It’s not quite that, but it seems to be getting worse each year. I give to charity and support various causes, but I keep it quiet and behind closed doors.

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