Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Poppies on football shirts – a very (new) British problem

Its that time of year again when people try and think of more and more inappropriate ways of commemorating people who have been killed fighting in wars (a thong and an actual machine for killing more people are just two that spring to mind).
This is of course all part of a not-so-subtle to attempt coax the whole population into adopting a mindset, consistent with that of British nationalists in government and the establishment, modelled unsurprisingly on the idea of a certain kind of patriotism promoted in the United States.
Whereas not so long ago, certainly less than ten years ago, you could give a donation to an ex-serviceman or a volunteer on the street and discreetly choose whether or not to take a poppy from him or her to wear, those who now appear in public not wearing a poppy are hounded and questioned [Daily Mail link].  

So, some bright spark though it would be a good idea to add a poppy onto a football shirt, an item of clothing that will be ingrained with sweat, dirt and phlegm during the course of 90 minutes. Hardly dignifying . This decision taken by faceless football administrators or club officials, either following pressure from officialdom or in an attempt to creep onto a future honours list instantly co-opts all players and also supporters by association. I’m only aware of one player who’s stood up to this, James Mclean, and he is given no end of abuse for it, eagerly egged on by the media on an annual basis:

Yesterday the BBC reported that the English FA were kicking up a fuss because Fifa 'rejects England & Scotland request to wear poppies on armbands'. In another yesterday, titled, Is the poppy political symbol? the BBC claims:
...British sports teams have traditionally joined in by adding a poppy to their kit.
I'm not sure how it defines traditional, but here is a picture from a game played in 1999 at this time of year and there is naturally no poppy in sight.

Also in the first BBC article, Wales is also mentioned:
Separately, the Football Association of Wales says it is seeking approval for its players to wear the poppy symbol on their shirts when they play Serbia at the Cardiff City Stadium on 12 November.

I would really like to know who at the FAW has instigated this. I'll be attending the match, and while I can't claim to speak for the 30,000 Wales fans and a few hundred Serbs who will be there, I'd like the FAW to consider this. During the last two World Wars there were many in Wales amongst those who fought and who conscientiously objected that held republican, socialist, Welsh nationalist and religious views quite opposite to those being expressed in this jingoistic hijacking of the wars and its victims. Those views are still held by many in Wales today, and disproportionately more so amongst those who follow the Welsh side and certainly those who attend matches.  There's also the awkward matter of the Serbian civilians who were killed by NATO airstrikes just sixteen years ago, so family members of these victims of the bombings and survivors are likely to be either in the crowd in Cardiff or watching the game on
TV in Serbia. What are they going to think I wonder?


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