A PLANE carrying a message “White Lives Matter Burnley” has flown over the Etihad during their clash with Manchester City.
The distasteful incident came just moments after all players took a knee in solidarity for the global Black Lives Matter movement.
Burnley have confirmed they are investigating the incident.
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.”
Prem stars have also been wearing Black Lives Matters messages on the back of their shirts since the league’s restart.
The movement was initiated following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin.
Burnley Football Club strongly condemns the actions of those responsible for the aircraft and offensive banner.
It sparked huge protests across America that have spread across the world.
Furious Burnley defender Ben Mee said after the game: “There’s something I want to speak about first – the airplane that went out before the game. I’m ashamed, I’m embarrassed that a small number of our fans have decided to put that around the stadium.
“[They’ve] completely missed the point. [There’s] a group of lads in there [changing room] that are embarrassed to see that, it’s not what we’re about at all. [They’ve] missed the point of the whole thing we’re trying to achieve.
“These people need to come into the 21st century and educate themselves as a lot of us do.
“They completely missed the point of the whole thing that were trying to achieve and they don’t represent what we’re about, what the club’s about, the players are about and what the majority of fans are about. It’s a small minority of people and I’m really upset that happened.
“As we were coming out we heard some whispers it was going to happen – the club tried to stop it – I’ve heard it was a small number of people that arranged this. [I] hope it doesn’t happen again.
“I’m ashamed, upset that it’s associated with our club, my club, and it’s not something we want to see at all in this game. Totally condemn it.
“Hopefully these people can learn and be taught what we’re trying to do and what the whole Black Lives Matter movement is trying to achieve.
“We want equality in society, in football, everything, whether it be race, religion, gender, LGBTQ community. The players have all pulled together and we want to make a stand against these things and for minorities.”
Ex-Man City star Micah Richards said: “I was fortunate enough to play with Ben Mee in the academy and he’s always been a nice lad. He spoke from the heart and that’s all you can ask him to do.
“It shows you though, I speak to a lot of people who say ‘that’s happening in America, not in England.’ It’s proved today that people do feel like that. I don’t want to fight fire with fire, I want to educate people.
“I would like to see them and ask them ‘why do you feel this way?’
“Until we understand why people feel this way, nothing’s going to change.
“We can wear T-shirts, we can do Black Lives Matter protests and slowly we’re getting better but it’s just showed you today that although it’s a small minority, it’s still happening.”
The banner was greeted with fury after the image was shared across social media.
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.”
NFL star Colin Kaepernick was the first sports star to take a knee – doing so during the American national anthem – to take a stand against racism and inequality in the US in 2016.
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.
“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.”