When Canadian military doctor John McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields, he could not have imagined it would result in a row between FIFA and the English and Scottish FA.
The poppy was fashioned as a symbol of remembrance for his fellow soldiers, but fast forward over 100 years and it is the centre of a geopolitical tug of war.
Law 4 of the FIFA guidelines states that: “The basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.”
A month ago football’s biggest football institution set out an ultimatum: don’t wear the poppy or face the consequences.
FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn and Scottish counterpart Stewart Regan decided to ignore the poppy ban and subsequently go ahead with the full Armistice Day remembrance ceremony, in England’s World Cup qualifying match against Scotland at Wembley on November 11.
But just how political is the poppy? Irish Nationalists, for example, see the poppy as a political symbol about Bloody Sunday, but compared to a Conservative Party emblem on an England or Scotland shirt, it is easy to note which image is more political.
To ban the poppy on political grounds sets a dangerous precedent that immediately changes the setting in how we remember those who have fallen.
Both English and Scottish FA can be confident in their appeals, given the chaotic transition of high-profile positions within FIFA.
The arrival of Fatma Samoura, replacing Jerome Valcke as FIFA Secretary General, was a breath of fresh air in an attempt to improve the lack of diversity within the organisation.
However, her stance on poppies has drawn criticism and raised eyebrows. “Britain is not the only country that has been suffering from the result of war,” she said, forgetting that Armistice Day is to reflect and remember soldiers from every continent.
Last week, football’s governing body said they were investigating the ‘non-approved pre-match ceremony’ to mark the signing of the armistice, the display of poppies from fans and the armed forces, placing poppies on seats and showing them on big screens.
For FIFA’s disciplinary committee to open proceedings against memorial displays such as the last post, and the presence of armed forces on the pitch, is yet another stain on one of the most mind-boggling organisations in the world.
When Theresa May said “FIFA should sort their own house out before starting to tell others what to do” she raised the point that no one is currently likely to take FIFA seriously.
In 2011 the organisation agreed a deal with the English, Scottish and Welsh FAs, allowing poppies on matchday shirts. If they were to take FIFA to court, this might be sufficient evidence in an attempt to win a legal battle at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
FIFA’s controversies keep coming. A ludicrous poppy stance deserves a fierce backlash.