'White lives matter Burnley' banner was a 'really stupid thing to do', says cabinet minister

Luke Bradshaw
·Sports Writer
·3-min read

Cabinet minister Brandon Lewis has branded the ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ banner that flew over Manchester’s Etihad Stadium on Monday as a "really stupid thing to do”.

Speaking on LBC, the Northern Ireland secretary was asked about the banner that was flown just before Burnley’s Premier League fixture with Manchester City.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: A plane flies over the stadium with a banner reading 'White Lives Matter Burnley'  during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley FC at Etihad Stadium on June 22, 2020 in Manchester, England. Football stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venus resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
A plane flies over the stadium with a banner reading 'White Lives Matter Burnley' during the Premier League match. (Getty Images)

He added: “Inappropriate, bad judgment. I don't know why they did it.”

Burnley issued a statement while the game was still being played, citing that anyone deemed responsible would be banned from attending matches.

"We wish to make it clear that those responsible are not welcome at Turf Moor," it read.

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"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."

Speaking immediately after the game, Clarets captain Ben Mee added: "We as a group of players condemn it, we're ashamed, we're embarrassed.

"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.

Burnley's English defender Ben Mee chases the ball during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Burnley at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on June 22, 2020. (Photo by Michael Regan / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /  (Photo by MICHAEL REGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Burnley captain Ben Mee. (AFP via Getty Images)

"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."

The Black Lives Matter movement has seen the Premier League adopting its own initiatives, with players taking a knee before games and replacing the names on their shirts with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ in its place.

Former Burnley manager, and Bournemouth’s current boss, Eddie Howe praised the club and Mee for their response. “I echo Ben Mee’s comments, who I thought spoke really well after the game and I’m sure it’s a very small minority of Burnley supporters who have done that.

“The majority of Burnley supporters who I met in my time there were fantastic people. On behalf of this club we are anti all racism and discrimination.”

Former Burnley defender Frank Sinclair was one of many to criticise the banner. He said that the Black Lives Matter movement is “for the good of humanity not just black lives.

A Burnley fan took credit for the banner. Posting on his Facebook page, the fan wrote: "I'd like to take this time to apologise .. TO ABSOLUTELY F ** NOBODY!

"It's now apparently racist to say white lives matter."