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Nemanja Matic Explains His Surprise Entry Into #Poppygate

Nemanja Matic Explains His Surprise Entry Into #Poppygate
By Michael McCarthy Updated

Even in James McClean adjusted terms, the Premier League's annual #Poppygate has been even more eventful than normal leading up to Remembrance Sunday. McClean has set the world on fire (again) by continuing his stance of politely refusing to wear a poppy on his jersey, before being jeered and abused by his own supporters at the weekend, responding on Instagram, being investigated by the FA for his response, and then strongly responding to the investigation.

Even by the usual standard of November Poppy Madness, this whole thing feels a little out of control.

To add to the chaos, Nemanja Matic has also decided to join the party this season. The Manchester United midfielder has created a welcome diversion for McClean, though unlike the Derry man, Matic didn't announce his reasons in advance of playing without displaying the poppy.

Because of that, fans and media were caught unawares and it was only watching United's game against Bournemouth that it was noticed Matic was wearing a jersey without the poppy attached. Quickly enough, the online abuse started to come in for the Serbian.

Today, Matic took to Instagram to explain his decision.

He said:

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.

It will be interesting to see if many English fans react to Matic in the way they have to McClean over the years.

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