‘Poppygate’ Sheds Shame On All Concerned

This was written as a response to the national outcry at FIFA denying England the opportunity to stitch a poppy on their shirt…

You could be forgiven for forgetting that England were even playing a football match last weekend; such was the furore that surrounded the ‘poppygate’ affair.

The whole messy shenanigans eventually came to a farcical conclusion, but the way it lingered for the best part of a week proved something of an embarrassment for the Football Association.

National pride has been restored by surrendering national dignity.

Why is it that, in 2011, the FA has determined the need for the English team to wear a poppy over Remembrance weekend?

In the past 10 years England have played countless friendlies during the middle of November; Sweden, Austria, Argentina, France, Germany and Brazil to name just a few, and yet the England team did not have a poppy sewn on to its shirt. There are other ways to display dignified remembrance.

National pride has been restored by surrendering national dignity. It is staggering that the FA did not pursue a different method of remembrance; they allowed ‘poppygate’ to drag on, screaming, stamping and browbeating until FIFA compromised.

It is indicative of our English-centric society; neither the Scottish nor Welsh FAs remonstrated like the English.

The way that David Cameron rode on the bandwagon illustrated the loss of perspective; the poppy itself lost almost all of its significance, it became England vs FIFA.

The culmination of the FA’s embarrassing week took place on Wednesday as an EDL demonstration took to the roof of FIFA HQ in Zurich, displaying a large poppy banner entitled ‘how dare FIFA disrespect our war dead and wounded’.

It is safe to say that the poppy campaign has gone too far when far right extremists hijack the symbol and use it as a defence of national pride.

The compromise – embroidering a poppy onto a black armband – was so remarkable because it was so obvious from the beginning.

The poppy was unavoidable at Wembley on Saturday evening, on the big screen, on the side of the pitch and on the advertising boards (it even accompanied a Carlsberg advert).

So why then did the FA engage in such an embarrassing and utterly pointless campaign against FIFA?

It is actually possible to demonstrate a dignified remembrance for those who gave their all today for our tomorrow without the poppy, (such as the minute silence before the match) unfortunately this debacle served entirely to distort its meaning, which is the ultimate disrespect.


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