'I'd like to apologize... to absolutely f*cking NOBODY': Burnley fan 'REFUSES to repent for White Lives Matter banner'
Shortly after kick-off of Monday's game, a plane was spotted flying above the stadium displaying the banner displaying the phrase and came shortly after all 22 players had kneeled prior to the game in solidarity against the scourge of racism in sport.
Burnley fan Jamie Hepple has reportedly claimed responsibility for the display, which came as an apparent riposte to the spate of displays of support for the 'Black Lives Matter' movement which have become commonplace in the English game since the restart of the Premier League last week and prompted the Lancashire club, as well as captain Ben Mee, to strongly condemn the move.Also on rt.com 'A DISGRACE': Outrage after 'WHITE LIVES MATTER' banner flies over stadium as Man City & Burnley stars take knee before match
Hepple, though, remained unrepentant. Borrowing a phrase from Irish UFC superstar Conor McGregor, Hepple wrote on his since-deleted Facebook page that "I'd like to take this time to apologise .. TO ABSOLUTELY F*CKING NOBODY!
"It's now apparently racist to say white lives matter," he continued on his social media account, which also displayed a photograph of Hepple alongside English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson.
Burnley have since fiercely condemned Hepple's actions in a statement. "We wish to make it clear that those responsible are not welcome at Turf Moor," it read.
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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. 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.
"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."
Mee, who has been a stalwart at the club since 2012, also spoke of his "shame" at the incident following the defeat to Pep Guardiola's side.
"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.
"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."
Lancashire Police have also stated that they are investigating the matter to determine if any laws were broken.Also on rt.com All 22 players and referee take a knee AFTER kick-off on Premier League return in support of Black Lives Matter
Fare, a group who work within FIFA and UEFA in anti-discriminatory issues, also condemned the move, calling Hepple's stunt as another "racist backlash" against the BLM movement.
"The racist backlash against the Black Lives Matter movement across Europe is a trend we have seen and documented," Fare's executive director Piara Powar said.
Seems Jake Hepple is busy deleting stuff on Facebook. Like this. pic.twitter.com/au7xQL3wFE— Paul Murray 👨🏻🎤 (@RealPaulMurray) June 22, 2020
"Set against the BLM message of equal rights, 'White Lives Matter' can only be motivated by racism and a denial of equal rights."