Arsenal press conference in London Colney: Arsene Wenger ‘surprised’ at FIFA poppy ban

PUBLISHED: 10:13 03 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:13 03 November 2016

Arsene Wenger at his weekly press conference at London Colney, wearing a poppy. Photo courtesy Twitter/@Arsenal

Arsene Wenger at his weekly press conference at London Colney, wearing a poppy. Photo courtesy Twitter/@Arsenal

Twitter/@Arsenal

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wore a poppy with pride this morning, in support of players wearing the poignant emblem despite a controversial - and much-mocked - FIFA ban.

Arsene Wenger at his weekly press conference at London Colney, wearing a poppy. Photo courtesy Twitter/@ArsenalArsene Wenger at his weekly press conference at London Colney, wearing a poppy. Photo courtesy Twitter/@Arsenal

FIFA general secretary Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura has recently been reported warning that sanctions could follow should the FA allow players to wear black armbands with poppy emblems, when England and Scotland meet on Armistice Day.

The Football Association said in a statement today (Thursday) that it ‘fully respects the laws of the game’ and takes its founding role on the International Football Association Board ‘extremely seriously’.

But, it added, “The poppy is an important symbol of remembrance and we do not believe it represents a political, religious or commercial message, nor does it relate to any one historic event.”

At his weekly press conference at Arsenal’s training based in London Colney, Wenger today echoed those views, saying that he was ‘surprised’ at FIFA’s harsh stance, particularly as wearing a poppy had nothing to do with making a political statement.

He added that it was a “part of English culture I love … [the poppy] represents people who have given their lives for the country.”

The FA has said that it intends to “pay appropriate tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice by having the England team wear black armbands bearing poppies in our fixture on Armistice Day.”

The association said that this was “in keeping with the position agreed with FIFA back in 2011, and in what we believe is in accordance with Law 4, para 4.”

John Nichol, a former RAF prisoner of war, recently organised an e-petition, calling on FIFA and the FA to allow the England and Scottish players to “wear their poppy with pride on their shirts for their Armistice Day match at Wembley.

“This symbol of the courage and sacrifice of our heroes cannot and should not be shunned.”

His petition has now been signed by about 300,000 people: https://www.change.org/p/fifa-let-england-and-scotland-footballers-wear-their-poppies-with-pride

• Arsenal V Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League, Emirates Stadium, Sunday November 6, 12pm.

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