The Clumpany says a big ‘well done’ to the Scottish Football Association for outdoing itself with tonight’s statement about Scotland players wearing poppies during the upcoming World Cup qualifier against England on Armistice Day. It is well worth a read.
I don’t doubt that their wish to show respect to people who have died in conflict is absolutely sincere. And there is no harm in asking FIFA if they would be prepared to overlook their rules on ‘political, religious or commercial messages’ at games played under their jurisdiction. But FIFA have considered the request and said no.
So for the SFA to come out (along with the English FA) and say “Ah but…” is quite breathtaking. In fact, it smacks of arrogance. Here is my translation of what the statement actually seems to mean: 😉
“We fully respect the laws of the game when it suits us, and take our po-faced sense of superiority as a member of the International Football Association Board extremely seriously. We’re never giving up our seat in that exclusive little club thank you very much!
The poppy is an important symbol of remembrance and despite these so-called ‘rules’ we do not believe it represents a political, religious or commercial message, nor does it relate to any one historical event. No matter what you say FIFA. So shut up and know your place.
In keeping with our unilateral view of the ‘Laws’ (which our mate Sandy Bryson says is fine), the Scottish FA intends to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the one way guaranteed to piss off the world governing body. The Scotland national team will wear black armbands bearing poppies in our fixture against England on Armistice Day. And we might even fly a wee flag which says “GIRUY FIFA”.
When you consider that not only is the SFA itself a regulatory body, responsible for the enforcement of rules in domestic football [no laughing at the back…], but also one of the four permanent members of the International Football Association Board which makes the rules for world football, your jaw can only hit the floor.
I have no wish to see teams getting points deducted for ‘political displays’, and indeed am aware that some good can come of them. For example, see the ‘Match The Fine for Palestine’ initiative which arose following the flying of Palestinian flags during the Celtic v Hapoel Be’er Sheva Champions League play-off round fixture. However, the SFA is making a mockery of its own role and status in world football by choosing to grandstand in this way. Especially when there are countless other ways that the Fallen could be honoured in and around this fixture.
It will be very difficult indeed to feel any sympathy should the SFA and FA receive sanctions for their hubris, or if their privileged rule-making-and-enforcing roles are called into question: