Because I’m a football fan and I’m interested in all those actions that are related to this phenomenon, I discover that football involves or it is involved in political and historical discussions. And one of these examples is related to the Poppy Sign and how this sign is seen by the Football International Federation Association.
Poppy Sign, known also as the Remembrance Poppy, represents an artificial flower that is belonging to the British people and this sign is worn in order to commemorate those soldiers that were killed in wars. This sign is worn in other countries that were part of the British Empire, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the Republic of Ireland. In Hong Kong and in some regions of Pakistan, the Poppy Sign is worn also by some people.
The Poppy Sign and FIFA’s attitude
In 2016, during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers, England and Scotland teams were about to meet in a football match. This football match was to take place on 11th of November, on the Armistice Day. In the same day of the qualifiers, another country that is part of the United Kingdom, namely Wales was facing Serbia. The football federations of these British countries asked FIFA to accept wearing the Poppy Sign by players during these football matches. The FIFA’s rules speak about the interdiction to introduce and use political signs during football matches and due to this, using the Poppy Sign are not seen with good eyes by the International Federeation. FIFA has banned the request that was formulated by these football federations. Despite of these rules, the federations of these countries have decided to send the players wearing the Poppy Sign on their arms, on black armbands. Due to this, both England and Scotland football federations were fined by FIFA for violating regulations.
For and against FIFA’s attitude
Of course, each decision has supporters and objectors. And FIFA’s attitude regarding the wearing of the Poppy Sign during the Armistice Day by British football teams has both supporters and objectors. FIFA’s argument speaks about the idea that the Poppy Sign is a political symbol and FIFA’s policy prohibits wearing political signs during football matches. There are opinions that speak about the fact that this is not a political sign and it is only honors those who died in wars. Of course, wars are the results of political actions, but each nation has to honors its veterans.
Was a fair attitude from FIFA?
Well, it is hard to give a correct answer to this question. If we read the general rules that guide FIFA, we may say that it was a fair attitude. But if we look at the arguments that speak about honouring those people that have died in the war, we may say that it was an injustice. Maybe FIFA should define clearly what represent the political involvement in football.
I think that the border between politics and apolitic is very thin and due to this FIFA has to be very careful with that.