This weekend, most people in the United Kingdom will wear poppies in honor of Remembrance Sunday, and all British football clubs will wear poppy patterns on their jerseys, although Celtic F.C.'s shorts will not. The reason for this is that Celtic are sponsored by Shell, and they do not want to be associated with war or death.
Prior to 2008, the poppy was not a divisive issue; individuals just wore one or did not. Many people felt that their gift would benefit old troops who had battled Fascism during WWII. Celtic fans would wear their poppies to games if they so desired, and it was completely uncontroversial.
In 2008, however, the NFL decided to stop all commercial activity during Veterans Day weekend in order to have an entire week to celebrate their season opener. This included banning the wearing of flags and patriotic clothing. Many people took this as a sign from them that other sports should do the same, and so began the fight between football fans and poets.
The battle started small, with many football teams giving out flags to their players and coaches in an attempt to show support for those who had served. However, it wasn't long before some fans decided to go further than just giving out flags; they also wanted to express themselves through apparel.
At first, many people believed that these outfits were too similar to what is worn by soccer fans, so many groups switched over from football to rugby. However, as time went on and more groups made the switch, it became clear that there was something unique about the style of play associated with soccer that didn't translate well to other sports.
Finally, in 2009, after much debate and controversy, the poppy became legal again.
Why aren't they doing it? Because a sizable portion of their following is opposed to it They've got their reasons. I'd like to believe that the rationale behind the sacrifices symbolized by the poppy is that it's their right not to wear it. My team, Dundee United (ex-Dundee Hibernian), is of Catholic origin. Although the majority of fans are Protestant, we always wear poppies because we understand that many non-Catholics feel uncomfortable about us wearing them.
Poppies were first grown in France during the First World War to help soldiers returning from war find jobs and rebuild their lives. It was thought that planting seeds taken from the flowers would bring luck to farmers trying to grow more crops than usual. Today, we know that seeds taken from the flowers can never fully reproduce the color or shape of the original flower, but they do provide nourishment for growing plants.
The word "poppy" comes from the Latin papaver, which means "seed pod." The seed pods of the poppy contain morphine and other drugs. Until the early 20th century when synthetics became available, people used opium as a painkiller and morphine to treat wounds and diseases.
In Europe, the annual event known as "Poppy Day" began in 1917 when British artist Edward Thomas arranged for thousands of white poppies to be planted on the battlefields where French and English soldiers had died.
Most Irish nationalists and Catholics refuse to wear poppies because they believe the Poppy Appeal supports troops who killed Irish citizens (for example, on Bloody Sunday) and cooperated with illegal loyalist paramilitaries (for example, the Glenanne gang) during the Troubles. The IRA has also bombed shops that sold poppies.
In addition, some Irish people feel that wearing a poppy is inappropriate during November observances of Saint Martin's Day and Saint Andrew's Day (the latter being a public holiday in Scotland).
Finally, some Irish people may choose not to wear a poppy because they consider it an English symbol.
After FIFA backed down, national football teams will be permitted to wear poppies on their shirts during international matches. They claimed the memorial emblem was political and thus prohibited by FIFA regulations prohibiting personal, political, or religious statements. However, the decision was later changed and now all that matters is that players identified their choice of shirt with Britain's national flag at the beginning of the game.
The idea behind banning players from wearing poppies is that they're a political statement against war. Well, I can understand why some people might interpret it as such but personally I see no connection between football and the issue of war.
I think what many people don't realize is that most professional footballers are not in the military - they work in jobs such as doctors, lawyers, and teachers and do so because they enjoy playing football. Therefore, when they go out on the pitch they're not making any real contribution to war efforts; they're just doing something they love.
Now, some players may feel uncomfortable wearing a poppy because they believe it is a sign of respect for veterans. But if this is the case then they should not wear one anyway because it is their job to make themselves visible while playing. If they have issues with saluting after games then they should take them up with their employers rather than trying to avoid wearing a poppy.
The Football Association has announced that both England and Germany players would wear black armbands with poppies for Friday's friendly at Wembley, the day before Armistice Day. Both the FA and the German Football Association (DFB) decided to wear poppies in memory of service people.
Poppies have become a traditional symbol of remembrance for veterans of all nations who have served in wars. They are often displayed during November, the month they are grown.
Germany wore black armbands in their World Cup group stage match against England on June 19, when a total of 11 people were killed by a suicide bomber who attacked an event at the Borussia Dortmund stadium. The attacker was a Pakistani national who had been granted political asylum in Germany.
England will be wearing black armbands on Friday due to the death of three members of the same family who were killed when a van crashed into them while they were out walking their dog in Surrey. The driver of the van was also killed.
There have been calls from some Germans for England players to be banned from the game because of the family's connection to the country. However, the DFB has said that they will not take any action against the English team.
In addition to the family connection, some Germans have objected to the fact that most of the victims were children.