English Premier League club Burnley swiftly condemned a racist message flown from a small plane shortly after kickoff Monday against Manchester City.
The plane was spotted just moments after officials and players and staff from both teams took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, as has been the case at kickoff in every match since the Prem resumed last week after the coronavirus pandemic forced a hiatus.
The incident is under investigation by the police, the Premier League told United States broadcast partner NBC Sports. But the message, which read “White Lives Matter Burnley!”, made it appear to be the work of club fans.
Burnley’s statement, released at halftime, said those behind the display are not welcome at its home stadium:
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.
After the game, which City won 5-0, Burnley captain Ben Mee said he was “embarrassed” by the banner and that the perpetrators “missed the whole point” of the Premier League’s stand with the BLM movement.
Manchester City star Raheem Sterling, who has been vocal about standing for equality and against racism, weighed in on Twitter too:
Premier League teams have been fully supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has gone global since the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was filmed being killed while in police custody in Minnesota.
All 20 clubs in England’s top flight — the most popular sports league in the world — have worn the phrase on the back of their shirts and on sleeve patches during Project Restart.
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