Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, has today called for the English and Scottish football teams to be allowed to wear poppies on their armbands at Wembley. The two teams face one another at a 2018 World Cup qualifier on November 11th, Armistice Day.
Earlier this week, FIFA, football’s world governing body, announced that it had rejected the request for England and Scotland to wear poppies as it is considered a political symbol. Political symbols are banned under FIFA regulations.
Speaking from Westminster, Nigel Evans said,
“This is an unfathomable decision by FIFA – the poppies worn on and around Remembrance Sunday are not a political symbol, but one of respect for the dead. Respect for those who laid down their lives to guard future generations from oppression.
“It is not a symbol of war or glorifying conflict; it is a demonstration that we will not forget the members of the armed forces who have died and it also demonstrates a hope that no one else will die in warfare. If anything, it is a symbol of peace.”
FIFA has previously allowed football teams to wear poppies, such as in a 2011 fixture between England and Spain. This was a decision brokered after public outcry that it would not be allowed.
Mr Evans further added,
“The decision to wear a poppy armband should be the choice of the player, not the governing body. This is not a point about whether players are right to not wear a poppy if they wish. Not allowing those who wish to pay their respects to loved ones is a disgrace.
“I welcome Theresa May’s comments at PMQs supporting the poppy appeal.”
The Royal British Legion, who organise the poppy appeal, along with the Scottish and English Football Associations are campaigning for the decision to be reversed.