A plane carrying a banner declaring “White Lives Matter Burnley” has been flown over Manchester City’s home ground at the start of the English Premier League game against Burnley.
The plane appeared shortly after players from both teams got down on their knees in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at Monday’s match.
There was no indication who had organised the plane and banner.
The message made a stark contrast to shows of unity and support since the Premier League resumed, with all players wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’ on their shirts.
This EPL has also formally joined the international protest campaign sparked by the death in May of black American George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
“Burnley Football Club strongly condemns the actions of those responsible for the aircraft and offensive banner that flew over the Etihad Stadium,” the club said in a statement released at half time on Monday (British time).
“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 captain Ben Mee was spoke angry about the banner, saying the players were sickened by what they saw above their heads.
“We as a group of players condemn it, we’re ashamed, we’re embarrassed,” he told BBC Radio Five Live.
“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. It definitely had a 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.”
It was a bleak night out for the Burnley players, who also went down 5-0 to Manchester City.