(AFP) – England’s interim manager Gareth Southgate believes it will be fitting for his and Scotland’s players to wear commemorative poppies during Friday’s World Cup qualifier at Wembley, he said on Monday.
The football associations of England and Scotland have vowed to defy world governing body FIFA, which bans players from wearing political, commercial and religious symbols during matches.
“As head coach, I was keen for us to wear poppies,” he told a press conference at the St George’s Park training centre in Burton-on-Trent, central England.
“It’s a very important part of the history and tradition of what we are as a nation.
“The fact we have freedom of speech to make statements as we see fit we owe to the people who gave their lives in the two World Wars in particular.
“It now commemorates a lot more than that. I understand people have individual views on that. But it’s important we represent the nation and wearing the poppy is the right thing to do.”
People in Britain wear poppies in November to remember the country’s war dead and England’s FA said it would be an “appropriate tribute” for the players to wear black armbands with red poppy emblems.
England’s game against Scotland falls on November 11, which was the date the Armistice was signed to end World War I in 1918.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has described FIFA’s stance on the matter as “utterly outrageous” and a petition against the poppy ban has been signed by over 300,000 people.