Poppies Saved for the/a Nation.

Well, the powers that be have brought FIFA to its knees, and a momentous concession has been made in allowing (if you follow the BBC news coverage) the English football team to wear their poppies in an upcoming game of minor significance of football (if anyone is interested, Wales were also debating wearing poppies, but no one at the BBC seemed to notice or care about that). Plenty of hoopla and wrist wringing went on over this, with members of the Royal family showing their dismay at FIFA’s initial reluctance to allow the poppies to be worn, and then came in the PM, swinging into the poppy fight with a strongly worded letter that really showed FIFA who is boss (good that he could take the time from helping to prevent the world from imploding on itself to write letters on such pressing global economy saving scale issues).

The conclusion of all this – English football players can wear poppies on their arms, and a great triumph has been secured for the British institutions of the poppy, and general decency and what not, and so on… Now, this piece is not intended to belittle the poppy for one moment, or for what it represents, come the 11th, this author will certainly be wearing one. However, one wonders if a moment’s thought on what the poppy signifies will pass through the minds of the English football players as they line up to play hacky sack with the Spanish, one wonders further still how many of those in the crowd will take the time to ponder, to care about what this whole ‘fight for the right’ to wear the poppy is all about. How many of either footballer or fan will be up in silence at 11am on the 11th? How many will take the time to walk down to their local cenotaph and show their respects? I’m happy to be proven wrong, but I’m going to wager a little sum that there will be very few, if any, who make the effort.

It would be nice to think that this campaign to preserve the ‘nations’ right to wear the poppy will do something to raise awareness of those affected by war (one wonders for instance if any England players will demand a white poppy to be stapled on to their little arm bands?), that the battle over the past few days will encourage all involved to take the time to dwell on the significance of that which they choose to, as no doubt we will all be told, ‘proudly’ wear the poppy. Yet, the reality that we probably can’t escape is that this will have no more impact on the nation other than giving a selection of sporting commentators the opportunity to point out the fact that some footballers are wearing poppies, maybe mention what great ambassadors they are for doing so (before pulling the camera away as one of said role models begins a four letter tirade against a man in black for the most insignificant of reasons).

It’s sad to think that this will be the extent of the impact of this story, but there is a very good chance that that will indeed be its extent, and no more.

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