Legion stalwart in St Albans slams 'strange' FIFA poppy ban

PUBLISHED: 21:00 10 November 2016

Don Dell who helps organise the St Albans poppy appeal

Don Dell who helps organise the St Albans poppy appeal

Archant

FIFA's much-mocked poppy ban has been criticised in the St Albans district by a Royal British Legion stalwart.

Sanctions have been threatened by the international governing body should the Football Association allow players to wear black armbands with poppy emblems, when England and Scotland meet tomorrow (11) at Wembley on Armistice Day.

While local volunteers have been braving the cold to take part in the annual poppy appeal, Don Dell of the St Albans branch of the Legion told the Herts Advertiser he was “taken aback” by FIFA’s threat.

Don said: “Poppies are sent to people all over the world, and it just seems strange given that the game is being played in our own country.

“It is a mark of respect, and it is about remembering the fallen – what is political or religious about that?”

The FA said last Thursday that it intended 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.”

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.”

The Royal British Legion headquarters said in a statement that the red poppy was a symbol of remembrance and hope for a peaceful future.

It asked FIFA ‘in the strongest terms’ to rethink its stance and “permit players to honour the commitment and sacrifices of the Armed Forces”.

Last week, at a press conference at Arsenal’s training base in London Colney, the Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger said that he was surprised at FIFA’s harsh stance, particularly as the poignant emblem had nothing to do with making a political statement.

Wearing a poppy at the conference, he told media it was a “part of English culture I love … [the poppy] represents people who have given their lives for the country.”

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