"Poppy reminds me of attack on my country; I won't wear it"

Serbia and Man United defender Nemanja Matic has finally explained to the British why he decided not to wear the poppy symbol during a Premier League game.

Source: B92
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(EPA, file)
(EPA, file)

Matic is one of the biggest football stars who did the same over the last weekend. The poppy is a symbol worn by the the British each November, leading up to Armistice Day, in memory of their soldiers killed in wars - and according to the Royal British Legion, "the decision to wear it must be a matter of personal choice."

But Matic's choice landed him in hot water with the English media and fans. And he finally addressed the perceived controversy by posting the following on Instagram:

"I recognize fully why people wear poppies, I totally respect everyone’s right to do so and I have total sympathy for anyone who has lost loved ones due to conflict.

However, for me it is only a reminder of an attack that I felt personally as a young, frightened 12-year old boy living in Vrelo, as my country was devastated by the (NATO) bombing of Serbia in 1999. Whilst I have done so previously, on reflection I now don't feel it is right for me to wear the poppy on my shirt.

I do not want to undermine the poppy as a symbol of pride within Britain or offend anyone, however, we are all a product of our own upbringing and this is a personal choice for the reasons outlined.

I hope everyone understands my reasons now that I have explained them and I can concentrate on helping the team in the games that lie ahead."


Another footballer who made the same gesture was Stoke City's James McClean, and the Irishman's reasons were similar to those of the Serb - namely, he associates the poppy with the British military actions against his people and therefore does not wear it.

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