A Spirit Stronger Than War
Wembley’s crowd held an impeccable minute’s silence as England and Germany fans paid their respects ahead of Armistice Day. Wreaths were laid on the Wembley pitch before kick-off by representatives from the Air Force, Army and Navy of both nations, while the stadium’s infamous arch glowed red above the big screen emblazoned with the message, ‘Football Remembers’ to the sound of the Last Post. Both England and Germany players wore wear black armbands sporting poppies for the first time and outside the stadium, a replica of The Truce statue was positioned. The statue of which a permanent bronze stands in the city of Messines, Flanders depicts the historic moment during the First World War ceasefire where a game of football broke out between British and German troops on Christmas Day, 1914. In the build-up to the game, FA chief executive Martin Glenn talked of how commemorating the men and women who have served in Great Britain’s forces was ‘ingrained our nation’, and the sentiment of the occasion has been warmly supported by their German counterparts, too. Speaking ahead of the match, Reinhard Grindel, president of the German Football Association said:
"Today we have every reason to speak of an international as a 'friendly' game. The relations between our countries are excellent, and for the young people of today it would be absolutely unthinkable to shoot at each other, but that was exactly what our fathers, grandfathers, did. Great Britain will be commemorating Remembrance Day tomorrow and as Germans we are honoured to be actively involved in this memorial day.
I know that rule number 4 of the FIFA regulations is very strict and as national associations we do everything we can to support these rules. But is wearing poppy armbands really 'political propaganda'? Of course not, it's just the opposite. The point is that football pays tribute to the values that have been pounded into the ground in two world wars: respect, tolerance and humanity.
Football has an incredible power of integration. It brings together people from all walks of life and with different ethnic backgrounds, men and women, young and old. The game between England and Germany will be seen by millions of viewers around the world, and we want to send a clear message to all: NEVER AGAIN WAR! "