November 3, 2016

FA right to defy FIFA poppy ban

Congratulations to both the FA and the SFA. Shame on FIFA, says Rory Broomfield.

Congratulations must be given to both the English and Scottish Football Associations for defying the idiotic FIFA decision to try and ban both teams from wearing poppies to commemorate those who died trying to protect freedom. The attempt by FIFA to suppress freedom of speech was a spectacular own goal that brings the organisation into further disrepute.

This is not the first time, however, that FIFA has stuck its foot in it. Over the past few years, FIFA has been hit by scandal after scandal with one involving its general secretary, Jerome Valcke, being quickly followed by an investigation over the 2014 Football World Cup and allegations of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering. These scandals have led to a number individuals, including nine FIFA officials and five businessmen, to be indicted over the past few years.

This cloud of suspicion allowed Leave campaigner and Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, to liken FIFA to that other body of ill-repute: the EU. Dan wrote that saying “I support the EU because I like Europe” is rather like saying “I support FIFA because I like football”. He was illustrating the fact that you don’t have to support an organisation dogged by corruption scandals and suspicion (FIFA and the EU) to like something beautiful (Europe and football).

Indeed, football was once called the beautiful game by Pele. He might not describe it as such anymore. If he doesn’t, I wouldn’t blame him: the off the field behaviour of FIFA, its officials and its associates have brought the entire game into disrepute.

This case though is worrying because it goes beyond straight corruption involving money. On the contrary, it tries to interfere with domestic culture.

FIFA rejected the bids by both English and Scottish football associations to wear the poppies because, according to SFA chief Stewart Regan, it bans political, religious or commercial messages on shirts.

To think that commemorating the sacrifice of those who fell in the fight for freedom is a political, religious or commercial message is just idiotic. It defies belief. But by this ruling FIFA is restricting freedom of speech and association within the UK. It is a dangerous precedent that must to overturned.

Unfortunately, FIFA’s actions have ironically drawn the focus away from football and onto politics. It has acted against the best interests of the game. Congratulations must therefore be given to both the FA and the SFA for standing up against this attempt at curtailing our culture. In doing so, I hope we can get on and watch the game and not the backroom politics.

And if FIFA continue to try and fine both Associations, the FA and the SFA should tell the ignorant bureaucrats where to go.

5.00 avg. rating (98% score) - 8 votes
Rory Broomfield
Rory Broomfield
Rory Broomfield is Director of The Freedom Association and the Better Off Out campaign. He is an authority on the EU and has written a number of books including his latest, co-authored with Iain Murray, Cutting the Gordian Knot: A Roadmap for British Exit from the European Union. He has previously worked in the City of London and in Westminster for a number of Members of Parliament, including the current Prime Minister, Theresa May; the current Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady; and Sir Richard Shepherd.
  • Inoff the Red

    FIFA did not bat an eyelid earlier this year when the Republic of Ireland national team displayed a badge celebrating the centenary of the Easter Uprising. How was that not political?

  • ale bro

    there’s an aspirational idea that politicians shouldn’t get involved in sport, something to do with the 1936 olympics i believe

  • DWWolds

    It is in Blair and his cronies that lack of public support has been eroded.

  • DWWolds

    Thank you for that.

  • Chucky DeHammar

    What utter drivel.

    People are intelligent enough to know that the armed forces are sent to conflicts by politicians – who are quite rightly vilified if they fail to remember those who have died on account of the decisions made by them and their forebears.

    As for your sweeping comment that public respect for the armed forces has fallen, how do you explain a recent survey that showed 91% had a favourable view of the armed forces?

  • ale bro

    i agree with FIFA that wearing poppies is a political statement – just see what happens when a politician doesn’t wear one! Individual footballers are not in a position to refuse to wear a poppy if it goes against their political beliefs. In recent years, promotion of poppy wearing has moved from remembering the fallen from WW1 and WW2, to increasing the solidarity with the armed forces. Public respect for the forces has been completed eroded by the lack of public support for the military’s adventures in the middle east. I now see poppy selling as a PR exercise to try and bring back public support.

  • How does the presence or non-presence of a poppy have the remotest impact on football? In which case, how is it any of FIFA’s business?

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