Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The rights and wrongs of Fifa's poppy ban

I wear a poppy at this time of year joining millions of Brits in honouring our war dead and hoping in a small way to help the work of the British Legion.
Fifa’s original ban on England’s soccer team wearing a poppy on their shirts when they play Spain at Wembley in Saturday’s friendly was wrongheaded.
The poppy isn't a political symbol and therefore should never have been placed on the banned list of what footballers may wear at internationals.
But Fifa did have a case that in allowing the poppy, other nations might use the decision to press their own claims for special treatment.
The change of heart to permit the poppy to be worn on our players' black arm bands, while welcome makes the organisation look more foolish than it already does.
However the Football Association is to be complimented on the way it tried to defuse the row by introducing a list of measures at Saturday’s match including the arm bands in recognition of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.
I was impressed Prince William joined the furore by approaching Fifa directly given the rebuff England's 2018 World Cup bid, of which he was the figurehead, received. But his courage helping land Fifa's ignominious U-turn paid off. It was one in the eye for Sepp Blatter and Fifa cronies.
However there has been an outbreak of poppy-itis wherever there is a television camera in the last few weeks, which smacks of what broadcaster Jon Snow once called "poppy fascism."
Whether it’s politicians, TV presenters, or talent show hopefuls, the paper poppy seems to flower earlier each year. Some are resorting to poppy lapel badges or even jewelled brooches – where I hope the British Legion receives the lion’s share of profits.
I’m not condemning the practise; it would seem to do more good than harm in giving publicity to the approach of Poppy Day. But it wouldn’t do to dig too deeply into the motives of self-aggrandising wearers.

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