‘I don’t feel it is right’: Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic reveals he did not wear a poppy on his shirt because it reminds him of Nato’s bombing of his Serbian village when he was a child
- Nemanja Matic was only Manchester United not to wear a poppy on Saturday
- Midfielder was subject to vile Twitter abuse as a result of his decision
- Matic previously wore a poppy for United in clash at Chelsea last season
- Serbian states he respects the Poppy Appeal but does not want to be part of it
Nemanja Matic has lifted the lid on why he will not wear a poppy on his Manchester United shirt, claiming it reminds him of his village being bombed when he was just 12-years-old.
The Serbian was the only United player on the pitch not featuring a poppy on his shirt during their 2-1 win over Bournemouth on Saturday despite having done so last season for the Old Trafford outfit.
As a part of NATO, British forces were involved in the Kosovo War in 1999 as part of a bombing offensive to drive Serbian forces out of the state.
Nemanja Matic decided against wearing a poppy in Manchester United’s win at Bournemouth
Matic was the only United player not to wear a poppy in the Premier League clash at the Vitality
Yet the midfielder has taken to Instagram to explain his position, stating that while he respects the Poppy appeal, he no longer wishes to wear one on his match shirt.
‘I do not want to undermine the poppy as a symbol of pride within Britain or offend anyone,’ Matic said on the social media site.
‘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.’
MATIC’S FULL STATEMENT
‘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.’
Matic’s stance at the weekend drew vile abuse on Twitter with one fan claiming: ‘Matic isn’t wearing a poppy, snap the c**t’s leg.’
Another added: ‘No excuse for Matic not wearing a poppy. British involvement in Kosovo has nothing to do with remembering those who gave their lives in two World Wars #DISGRACE.’
The Serbian international was not the only player to go without a poppy, with Stoke City’s James McClean also suffering abuse from Potters supporters for his stance.
NATO INVOLVEMENT IN THE KOSOVO WAR
The Allied Operations during the Kosovo War were heavily criticised for their bombing campaign, with up to 528 Yugoslav civillians killed as a result of their airstrikes.
Human Rights Watch confirmed these deaths came across a range of 90 incidents.
Serb officials claimed a hospital in Belgrade was struck as well as an old peoples’ home, a bus and train.
NATO leaders also admitted to accidentally bombing fleeing refugees in Kosovo.
The Irishman was involved in an angry exchange with fans following their 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday that has led to him being investigated by the FA after labelling the supporters who verbally abused him as ‘uneducated caveman’.
McClean is from Derry in Northern Ireland and grew up on the Creggan estate were six of the people who were killed on Bloody Sunday came from.
Bloody Sunday saw 28 unarmed civilians shot by British soldiers in a peaceful protest march.
‘The FA are investigating me after Saturday’s event, for what exactly?’ he said in an Instagram post on Monday.
‘Yet week in week out for the past 7 years I get constant sectarian abuse, death threats, objects being thrown, chanting which is heard loud and clear every week which my family, wife and kids have to listen too (sic), they turn a blind eye and not a single word of condemnation of any sort.’
Matic previously wore a poppy as recently as last year in United’s defeat at Chelsea