MANCHESTER United midfielder Nemanja Matić has provoked fury for wearing a shirt without a commemorative poppy while playing against Bournemouth in the Premier League.
The Serbian international was the only player on the pitch that did not wear a shirt with a red poppy emblazoned on the chest.
Premier League players are wearing shirts containing the artificial flower to mark Armistice Day on November 11.
Matic has not given any reason as to why his shirt was missing a poppy, worn by players as a sign of respect to members of the armed forces who died during World War One.
There is no indication whether the absence of the poppy was a personal choice.
Pictures of the 30-year-old taken during the game clearly show the outline of the poppy sticker on his shirt, suggesting it was on there at some point.
He has worn a shirt with a poppy in previous games, meaning it could be a kit error.
Despite there being no clear explanation, Matic was subjected to a furious backlash on social media for his lack of poppy.
Many football fans watching the game at the Vitality Stadium suggested he should be dropped from the team for the omission of the poppy.
“I would drop him”
One posted: “Nemanja Matic with no poppy on his shirt…. I would drop him and he would never play for United again. #nosurrender#lestweforget#wewillrememberthem.”
Another raged: “You as a club are a DISGRACE to allow Matic to play for this club when refusing to wear a POPPY. He should NEVER play for this club again – the CLUB and MATIC disgusting behaviour.”
Meanwhile, speculation was rife over the reason Matic was not wearing a shirt with a poppy.
One user suggested Matic requested a shirt without a poppy because of part Britain played in the NATO bombing campaign during the Kosovo War in 1999.
He wrote: “No excuse for Matic not wearing a poppy.. British involvement in Kosovo has nothing to do with remembering those who gave they life in 2 World Wars #DISGRACE.”
Others suggested not wearing a poppy was a matter of principle for Matic.
Praising him, one commented: “Well done to Nemanja Matic on standing up for his beliefs and not wearing a poppy.”
The furore comes after Stoke City player James McClean has confirmed he will not wear a Remembrance Day poppy on his shirt for upcoming games against Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest.
The 29-year-old is from Derry, Northern Ireland, where the Bloody Sunday massacre happened in 1972.
Bloody Sunday, also known as the Bogside Massacre, saw British soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians during a peaceful protest march against internment.
In a statement issued by the club, he said: “I know many people won’t agree with my decision or even attempt to gain an understanding of why I don’t wear a poppy.
“I accept that but I would ask people to be respectful of the choice I have made, just as I’m respectful of people who do choose to wear a poppy.”
Wearing poppies is a matter of personal choice for players and there are no penalties for refusing to wear one.