Sunday 4 December 2016

In the mind of FIFA, the causes of the poppy and Easter Rising are linked

Published 08/11/2016 | 02:30

Both teams and the fans observe a minutes silence for Remembrance Day before the game between England and Scotland on November 11, 2011 at Wembley Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA
Both teams and the fans observe a minutes silence for Remembrance Day before the game between England and Scotland on November 11, 2011 at Wembley Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA

The Irish nationalist tradition has seldom favoured the ritual wearing of the poppy in November - it smacked of imperial militarism - so it is somewhat ironic that the 1916 commemoration emblem should now be inextricably linked with the right to wear a November poppy.

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Poppy war broke out in the UK over the past week when the football authority, Fifa, banned England and Scottish players from wearing a poppy armband for Armistice Day, November 11. Fifa prohibited the poppy emblem, claiming it was a "political symbol", and it disbars all political (and religious) symbols on the football pitch.

A fair enough general rule, maybe. Were Fifa to allow political symbols, you'd soon have arm bands with 'Free Palestine', 'Support Gay Marriage', and 'Repeal the Eighth Amendment'. After all, consider what the intrusion of political messages has done to the cake-baking industry. Neutrality in sport would seem to be sensible.

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