London, June 23 (IANS) Former England defender Micah Richards has said he was disheartened after a plane carrying a banner reading, ‘White Lives Matter Burnley flew over Manchester Citys Etihad Stadium at the start of Mondays English Premier League tie.
The banner was towed by an aircraft over the home of Manchester City just after kick-off in the Clarets’ Premier League return.
The Clarets’ players — who went on to lose 0-5 — were visibly upset by the sight of the message attached to the Burnley name being trailed across the sky and which was captured by broadcasters and national media covering the game.
“It’s so disheartening. After how far we’ve come in the last couple of weeks, it really does hurt me,” former City defender Richards said on Sky Sports.
“I agree, everyone should have free speech, but just at a time when things are on the up, a small fraction just want to spoil things.”
“Burnley have come out and condemned it, but it just shows you — I speak to a lot of people who say, ‘all that stuff happens in America, it doesn’t happen in England’,” Richards added.
“… We can wear t-shirts, we can do ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, and slowly we’re getting better. But it just shows today, that although it’s a small minority, it’s still happening.”
Former Burnley skipper Frank Sinclair said on Twitter he was too let down by the incident.
“Please understand the message #BlackLivesMatters is for the good of humanity not just Black lives,” he said.
Burnley FC captain Ben Mee also admitted he was ashamed and embarrassed by the message.
At half-time, the club issued a statement of condemnation with Mee saying: “I’m ashamed and embarrassed that a small number of our fans have decided to put that around the stadium.”