- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2016

When England’s soccer team takes the pitch on Nov. 11 against Scotland, it will do so wearing poppy armbands, in defiance of a FIFA ban, The Independent newspaper reported Thursday.

The Scottish national team also plans to do the same, and both teams would receive some form of sanction from FIFA if they carry out the protest as planned, the BBC reported.

“The poppy is an important symbol of remebrance [sic] and we do not believe it represents a political, religious or commercial message, nor does it relate to any one historical event,” England’s Football Association said in a Wednesday statement on the matter, The Independent reported.

“In keeping with the position agreed with Fifa [sic] back in 2011 and in what we believe is in accordance with Law 4, para 4, the FA intend 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 statement added.

Earlier this week, the national teams for England, Scotland and Wales all petitioned the international governing body for allow the wearing of poppy armbands during World Cup qualifier matches held in the month of November. 

While FIFA regulations forbid the wearing of unauthorized emblems on soccer uniforms themselves, in 2011 the organization permitted England national team members to sport a poppy armband for a Nov. 12 match against Spain.

Nov. 11, the anniversary of the armistice ending hostilities in World War I, is a national day of remembrance in the United Kingdom to honor the nation’s fallen servicemen. A poppy is traditionally worn by Britons throughout the month of November but particularly on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday as a sign of respect.

In a separate story published Thursday, The Independent noted that in 1987, both England and Scotland played on Armistice Day sans poppy and that England similarly was not sporting the symbol in a 1999 match. On neither occasion was there public criticism of the omission of the symbol, the paper said.

“The advancements in technology and, in particular, social media have meant that it has become much easier for fans and critics alike to voice anger, frustration or criticism in the public domain, and with both the FA and the England national team managing Twitter accounts, it is not hard to let them know your thoughts,” said The Independent, offering an explanation for why the matter is so controversial today as opposed to 17 years ago.

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