Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic explains his refusal to wear poppy

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Manchester United’s midfielder Nemanja Matic explained why he did not wear a poppy on Saturday during their 2-1 victory over Bournemouth. Matic said the poppy reminds him of the bombing of his village in 1999 when he was 12 years old.

The 1999 bombing was part of a NATO-led military campaign aimed at driving out Serbian forces from Kosovo and eventually led to the independence of Kosovo.

Nemanja Matic was the only Manchester United player, who did not wear a poppy during the Manchester United – Bournemouth match on Saturday. The Serb insisted he would again not wear a poppy in their upcoming match against Manchester derby, which takes place on Remembrance Sunday.

Explaining his decision on Instagram, the 30-year-old Nemanja Matic intimated that respected the right of people to wear poppies as well as sympathized with anyone who has lost loved ones due to conflict.

“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 explained in his statement.