Nemanja Matic: Manchester United star won't wear poppy due to bombing memories

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has explained isn't wearing a poppy on his shirt because it remin...

Posted: Nov 5, 2018 5:43 PM
Updated: Nov 5, 2018 5:43 PM

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has explained isn't wearing a poppy on his shirt because it reminds him of his childhood when the former Yugoslavia was bombed in a NATO-air campaign that lasted 78 days in 1999.

Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, English football teams' kits include a poppy on the center of their shirts. Poppies have long been used as a symbol to remember those killed in conflict, particularly during the two world wars that consumed Europe during the last century.

Football (Soccer)

Manchester United FC

Premier League

Sports and recreation

Sports organizations and teams

Continents and regions

Europe

Northern Europe

United Kingdom

Bombings

Unrest, conflicts and war

On Saturday, the Serbian international drew attention by not wearing the emblem as Manchester United beat Bournemouth, receiving a barrage of abuse online.

"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," wrote Matic 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 bombing of Serbia in 1999."

NATO launched cruise missiles against the former Yugoslavia in 1999, following through on a long-standing threat to strike if Serbs refused to sign a US-drafted peace accord for Kosovo.

READ: Mayweather would get smashed by Khabib Nurmagomedov, says UFC boss

READ: Bayern Munich accused of racism over Halloween party photo

'I don't want to offend anyone'

"I do not want to undermine the poppy as a symbol of pride within Britain or offend anyone," added the 30-year-old midfielder as he confirmed he wouldn't be wearing a poppy on his shirt for his side's derby game against rivals Manchester City. That match takes place on Remembrance Sunday.

"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."

Known for his philanthropy, Matic set up a local team in his hometown of Vrelo and is now owner of two local football clubs. He has also helped fund charitable projects in his hometown -- buying new equipment for the fire service and donating money toward the renovation of a church.

READ: Xherdan Shaqiri left out of Liverpool squad for Belgrade game

READ: Mo Salah statue has social media in stitches

Matic isn't the only player to refuse to wear a poppy.

Republic of Ireland international James McClean opted not to wear one in 2012 and received a strong backlash for his decision.

McClean is from Derry, Ireland. The 1972 shootings at a civil rights march in Londonderry hardened anti-British sentiments in Northern Ireland, according to analysts, and led to many fresh recruits to the Irish Republican Army.

In 2010, the British government released a damning report into the "Bloody Sunday" massacre, placing blame overwhelmingly on the British soldiers who killed 14 people in Northern Ireland that day.

The forward, who now plays for Stoke City in English football's second-tier, said wearing a poppy would be "a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the 'Troubles.'"

Visit cnn.com/sport for more news and videos

Almost 3,000 people died during three decades of violence, which became known as "The Troubles."

Despite the controversy, McClean continues to not wear the emblem on his jersey and is often abused online for his decision.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 41571

Reported Deaths: 1537
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin13328790
Ramsey5169232
Dakota265596
Stearns249619
Anoka2393111
Nobles16846
Olmsted125920
Washington125541
Mower9822
Rice8798
Scott8584
Clay61238
Kandiyohi5901
Blue Earth5632
Wright5285
Carver4691
Todd4022
Sherburne3625
Lyon3332
Freeborn3120
Watonwan2670
Steele2451
Benton2363
St. Louis22316
Nicollet20312
Martin1755
Cottonwood1420
Winona14115
Goodhue1408
Le Sueur1251
Crow Wing11312
Pine1120
Otter Tail1111
Chisago1071
McLeod1000
Dodge960
Carlton900
Polk883
Unassigned8838
Isanti810
Chippewa801
Waseca770
Murray730
Itasca7112
Douglas700
Pipestone694
Morrison641
Becker620
Meeker621
Faribault610
Sibley582
Jackson570
Pennington530
Beltrami470
Brown442
Mille Lacs392
Wabasha380
Renville372
Fillmore350
Rock340
Swift331
Houston320
Yellow Medicine310
Grant250
Roseau250
Redwood230
Wilkin223
Koochiching211
Norman210
Cass192
Big Stone170
Kanabec171
Lincoln170
Wadena170
Aitkin150
Marshall130
Pope130
Clearwater120
Stevens110
Hubbard100
Mahnomen101
Lake60
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle50
Red Lake40
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34564

Reported Deaths: 747
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk7332184
Woodbury332944
Black Hawk249259
Buena Vista173711
Johnson14268
Dallas138531
Linn138183
Marshall109219
Scott103110
Dubuque94023
Story8575
Pottawattamie82112
Wapello71431
Muscatine68745
Crawford6803
Sioux5010
Tama48329
Wright3971
Louisa36513
Webster3655
Plymouth3465
Jasper34417
Warren3191
Dickinson2993
Cerro Gordo2841
Washington2519
Hamilton2011
Boone1681
Clay1491
Clarke1433
Allamakee1384
Clinton1321
Shelby1200
Mahaska11917
Carroll1131
Poweshiek1128
Bremer1107
Pocahontas1071
Franklin1040
Des Moines1002
Cedar951
Emmet950
Henry933
Hardin900
Cherokee831
Floyd812
Taylor810
Marion800
Monona780
Benton751
Guthrie754
Jones710
Butler682
Osceola680
Sac680
Buchanan631
Calhoun632
Iowa631
Jefferson620
Hancock601
Harrison600
Humboldt601
Fayette570
Jackson570
Lyon570
Delaware561
Madison552
Lee542
Monroe527
Palo Alto510
Clayton503
Grundy470
Mills470
Winneshiek460
Mitchell440
Davis421
Kossuth410
Union380
Howard370
Lucas354
Unassigned350
Winnebago340
Greene300
Chickasaw290
Cass280
Ida230
Keokuk231
Worth220
Appanoose213
Page210
Van Buren210
Audubon181
Adair170
Ringgold161
Decatur130
Montgomery122
Wayne110
Fremont100
Adams80
Rochester
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 71°
Mason City
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 70°
Albert Lea
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 70°
Austin
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 70°
Charles City
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 70°
Chance for more storms Monday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean's Sunday Weather

Image

Dave Main 10p Wx

Image

Virtual campaigning during pandemic

Image

Former NIACC coach Travis Hergert back in big league camp with the Phillies

Image

New ICE guidelines causing concern for international students

Image

Dave Main 6p Weather 7/11

Image

Connecting with a loved one with dementia during the pandemic

Image

Bruins set to host all-star game

Image

COVID-19 Cases Expected to Spike in North Iowa

Image

Training hard for a season that might not happen

Community Events