Nemanja Matic explains refusal to wear poppy

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matić did not wear a ceremonial poppy on his kit when his team took on Bournemouth this past weekend. While it seemed like it would be a source of more controversy within Old Trafford's walls, it didn't seem to be much of a big deal especially after United won courtesy of a Marcus Rashford goal in stoppage time.

Nevertheless, this story picked up some steam this morning when Matić himself took to Instagram to explain his actions and essentially explain why he will continue to not wear the poppy this weekend on Armistice Day when United battles crosstown rival Manchester City in the appropriately named Manchester Derby.

"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. 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 not that I have explained them and I can concentrate on helping the team in the games that lie ahead."

Matić was not the only competitor in England to not wear the poppy this past weekend. Stoke City midfielder James McClean also waived the opportunity because he was from Derry in Northern Ireland, which was the city where 13 individuals died during Bloody Sunday back in 1972. He was harassed by Middlesborough fans on Saturday. 

The FA is reportedly also looking into a social media post made by McClean after the match in which the 29-year-old described said fans as "uneducated cavemen."

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