Christmas Day 1914; Allied and German troops battle head to head on no man’s land. Brave men shooting from all angles, until the ball was finally put in the net…
Walt Disney himself couldn’t write a better fairytale of the events that happened on that day during the Battle of the Somme. It’s hard to believe that the greatest of enemies could lay down their arms to celebrate Christmas with a friendly game of football. It is rather ironic that men can find peace through football, yet they are not allowed to celebrate it during ‘the beautiful game’.
The poppy is described by the Royal British Legion as ‘a sign of remembrance’. Each year on November 11th, Millions of people wear the poppy to honour those who fell during the Great Wars.
More recently people have been bearing the symbol for the courageous men and women who are currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Over the past few weeks, National teams across the globe were planning a huge mark of respect by wearing the poppy during International matches prior to Remembrance Day, including England’s tie against reigning European and World Champions Spain. FIFA, however, dismissed the idea.
Written by Ryan Beasley – Third Year Student
FIFA released a statement saying that they ‘fully acknowledge the significance of the Poppy Appeal’ but would not bend the rules. They said, “Regulations regarding players’ equipment are that they should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages”.
Another reason behind the ban was ‘in fear of upsetting some Germans’. They said, “As a multinational organisation compromising over 50 different nationalities, the significance of this date will also be observed by many of its employees, who will remember family members too”.
This was ridiculed as Germany sensationally backed England’s plea to wear the infamous red flower.
With a Nation in uproar, key political figures, Prime Minster David Cameron and Prince William, joined in the row against FIFA.
When asked about the situation during the Prime Minister’s Questions, Cameron addressed parliament about the ‘appalling decision’. He said, “I think that the honorable lady not only speaks for the whole House, but in fact the whole country, [in] being completely baffled and frankly angry [at] the decision made by FIFA”.
“If teams want to be able to put the poppy on their shirt, as many teams do in our football league do, they should be able to at the national level, whether it is the English team or whether it is the Welsh team”.
“I hope they’ll reconsider it.”
After heavy criticism, FIFA finally compromised in by allowing National teams to wear the poppy on their black armbands.
The FA have recently issued a statement saying that, “[We] 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 also been working closely with the Royal British Legion who have welcomed our support”.
Along with the black armbands with embroided emblem, The FA has also confirmed that there will be a traditional minute’s silence as a mark of respect for the fallen heroes, past and present.