Nemanja Matic Reveals Why He Won’t Wear a Poppy on his Shirt

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Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic took a lot of heat on social media over the weekend due to his controversial stance on the poppy emblem. Matic was the only United player not to wear the poppy emblem on his kit during Saturday’s 2-1 win at AFC Bournemouth, and this decision drew a lot of ire from football fans.

The remembrance poppy is an artificial flower that has been used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war, and represents a common or field poppy. Matic wore the symbol on his jersey last year, but has since reversed course on the practice. He took to Instagram to explain why.

nemanja matic

Matic explained that the poppy reminds him of his village being bombed by NATO forces when he was 12. The NATO bombing included British military forces who were involved in the Kosovo War in 1999 as part of an offensive to try and drive Serbian forces out.

Here is the Instagram post below:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I recognise 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 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.

A post shared by Nemanja Matic (@nemanjamatic) on

Here is the full statement below:

“I recognise 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 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.”

This is not the only news story today involving a Premier League player and the geopolitics of Serbia. Liverpool will not travel Xherdan Shaqiri to Belgrade for their UCL match at Red Star due to the fact that he was set to be the subject of strong political protest in the city.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Lineups.com and Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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