In Depth

The FA has turned the poppy into a political football

Fifa's decision to ban England and Wales from wearing poppies has caused outrage

capello-poppy.jpg

FIFA has proved itself to be a "venal and jumped up organisation" for banning the English and Welsh football teams from wearing poppies in internationals this weekend, according to The Daily Telegraph. Football's governing body has refused to allow the players to sport embroidered symbols on their shirts despite pleas from the Football Association and the Government. Fifa has strict rules that state political or religious messages are banned from kits and insists that wearing poppies would "jeopardise the neutrality of football". But the decision has sparked a furious response and even the Prime Minister has weighed in, describing the ban as "outrageous". It's a disgrace "There is nothing remotely political, commercial or religiously divisive about displaying [a poppy] at this time of year to signify our gratitude and respect for those who gave their lives for us," says The Daily Mail in a leader. "It doesn't glorify war. Nor is it meant as a rebuke to our past enemies." Even the Germans have said they wouldn’t mind, adds the paper. Let's wear them anyway Unilateral action is the way forward says the Telegraph. "We would urge the teams to ignore Fifa and wear the poppies anyway to honour our war dead," it says. "If the FA is fined, then it should send the cheque to the Royal British Legion. " But hold on. "The referee is under orders from the governing body to call off the match if the emblems are present on their kit," warns Jamie Jackson in The GuardianFifa has its reasons "Rules are rules," points out Mark Cue in The Times. "Fifa does not want to make an exemption only for less worthy causes to hijack the loophole and become emblazoned on the great game." The issue is a minefield, warns Ian Ridley in The Daily Express. "Do we really want the floodgates of controversy and debate opened when each country - former enemies, perhaps - decide that their national shirts should bear an emblem related to episodes in their military past?" How would we feel if Argentina's footballers wanted to commemorate those who died in the Falklands war? It’s a smokescreen With all the negativity surrounding the players, it suits the FA to take on Fifa, says Yahoo! sports columnist Early Doors. "The FA wasted no time cynically milking all the publicity they could out of the situation," he writes. "Their second request for special dispensation was always going to fail. The FA knew that, but they made it anyway because headlines about nasty, 'anti-English' Fifa are better than headlines about John Terry."

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