English soccer club Burnley apologized and vowed to hand out lifetime bans to those responsible for a banner reading “White Lives Matter Burnley” being towed by an aircraft over Etihad Stadium during a Premier League match on Monday.
The aircraft circled Manchester City’s stadium moments after the players and coaches of both teams took a knee on the field before kickoff in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Burnley captain Ben Mee said the players “heard whispers” the incident was going to happen and the club tried to stop it.
“This, in no way, represents what Burnley Football Club stands for,” read a club statement published at halftime of the match, “and we will work fully with the authorities to identify those responsible and issue lifetime bans.”
The club described the banner as “offensive” and said it “strongly condemns” the message.
“We apologize unreservedly to the Premier League, to Manchester City and to all those helping to promote Black Lives Matter,” it said.
All players at Premier League teams have replaced their names on the back of their shirts with the words “Black Lives Matter” in support of a movement that has gained popularity worldwide since the killing of George Floyd in the United States last month.
Teams and match officials have taken a knee for around 10 seconds before kickoff at every match in the Premier League since the restart last week.
“I’m ashamed and embarrassed that a small number of our fans have decided to put that around the stadium. Completely missed the point,” Mee said.
“A group of lads in there are embarrassed to see that. It’s not what we are about at all. Missed the point of the whole thing, what we’re trying to achieve, to do. These people need to come into the 21st century and educate themselves.”