BURNLEY FC today said they were “ashamed” after a plane carrying the message “White Lives Matter Burnley” was flown over their clash against Manchester City.
The distasteful banner appeared over the Etihad Stadium last night – just moments after the players took a knee in solidarity for the global Black Lives Matter movement.
But Burnley were quick to slam the sick stunt.
Burnley Captain Ben Mee said he had been left “ashamed” – adding “people need to come into the 21st century”.
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Speaking after the game, the defender blasted: “We as a group of players condemn it, we’re ashamed, we’re embarrassed.
“It completely misses the point of what we’re trying to achieve as a football community.
“It’s a minority of our supporters, I know I speak for a massive part of our support who distance ourselves from anything like that.”
An emotional Mee told Sky News: “It definitely had a had massive impact on us to see that in the sky.
“We were embarrassed, disappointed, upset. We are embarrassed that our name was in it.
“That they tried to attach it to our club. It doesn’t belong anywhere near our club.
“Fans like that don’t deserve to be around football.”
And Burnley said they are now investigating the incident as they apologised “unreservedly”.
A statement read: “Burnley Football Club strongly condemns the actions of those responsible for the aircraft and offensive banner that flew over The Etihad Stadium on Monday evening.
“We wish to make it clear that those responsible are not welcome at Turf Moor.
“This, in no way, represents what Burnley Football Club stands for and we will work fully with the authorities to identify those responsible and issue lifetime bans.
“The club has a proud record of working with all genders, religions and faiths through its award-winning Community scheme, and stands against racism of any kind.
“We are fully behind the Premier League’s Black Lives Matter initiative and, in line with all other Premier League games undertaken since Project Restart, our players and football staff willingly took the knee at kick-off at Manchester City.
“We apologise unreservedly to the Premier League, to Manchester City and to all those helping to promote Black Lives Matter.”
Burnley supporters have been accused of racially abusing Brighton player Gaetan Bong and Spurs striker Son Heung-min in recent years
Last year, Tottenham ejected a 13-year-old Burnley fan from the stadium for allegedly racially abusing Son Heung-min.
And a father and son were accused of hurling racist abuse at Brighton defender Gaetan Bong last year.
Meanwhile, Burnley’s own striker Andre Gray accused his own fans of racism in 2016 – accusing them of living “in the stone age”.
This year, Prem stars have been wearing Black Lives Matters messages on the back of their shirts since the league’s restart from coronavirus.
The Black Lives Matter movement has seen a huge wave of support since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin.
It sparked huge protests across America that have spread across the world – including demonstrations held in the UK.
Protesters have also targeted statues of historical figures including Winston Churchill as they demand Britain examine its controversial history.
And Kick It Out, English football’s anti-racism charity, today slammed the sentiments of the banner – saying that it represented a grave misunderstanding of the BLM initiative.
The organisation’s chair Sanjay Bhandari said: “The point of Black Lives Matter is not to diminish the importance of other people’s lives.
“It is to highlight that black people are being denied certain human rights simply by virtue of the colour of their skin. It is about equality.
“We shall continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for greater equality for all in football.”
Athletes across many sports have taken a knee before their games in recent weeks – with the move an iconic symbol.
The show of support for the BLM movement started during the American football pre-season in 2016 when the San Francisco 49ers’ black quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat instead of standing during the national anthem.
The banner was greeted with fury after the image was shared across social media.
Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan was one of the first to slam the banner, saying: “So depressing”.
One simply commented: “Idiots.”
Another added: “What an absolute disgrace.”
Former Premier League striker Darren Bent added: “Strange considering Burnley have NO black players in there squad at all.”
Calling for more to be done in the fight for equality he said: “White people should say sorry for the way we have treated black people for 400 years. I am ashamed.
“We should send a thousand million messages for the black people.
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“I’m embarrassed and ashamed of what the white people have done for the black people.
“How people can think they are different? All the gestures are good and positive. Everything we can do to make it conscious, it is not acceptable.
“We have to do a lot of things for the black people which we have not done so far.”