BRITAIN SOCCER ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Police are looking into an incident in which a plane pulled a banner with the words "White Lives Matter Burnley" on it over Manchester City's Etihad Stadium at the start of a Premier League match between the teams.
The aircraft came into view moments after players and coaches from both clubs took a knee at kickoff on Monday in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. It circled the stadium for several minutes.
Police in Lancashire said on Twitter they will be "fully investigating" the incident on Tuesday. The banner was quickly condemned by Burnley, which has vowed to "work fully with the authorities to identify those responsible and issue lifetime bans."
It comes at a time when the Premier League and its clubs are throwing their weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
When the league season resumed last week amid the coronavirus outbreak, "Black Lives Matter" replaced player names on the backs of shirts. Players, coaches and match officials have taken a knee for about 10 seconds before kickoff in the first 12 matches of the resumption.
Iffy Onuora, the equalities officer for English soccer's players' union, said he hoped the widespread condemnation of the banner will act as a catalyst for further conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement.
"The words themselves aren't offensive, it's just the context. It's the rejection of the conversation we're having at the moment. That's what it represents," Onoura told the BBC.
"I guess people have the right to do it. For me it's just proof again that these things can lead to positive things because all that's been said in the 12 hours since the game finished has been, again, a catalyst, another conversation to have."
Onoura said the English game was at a "transformative point" in the fight against racism.
"For everyone out there, these are uncomfortable conversations and we've got to have them," he said. "There's nothing wrong with doing that, being comfortable with being uncomfortable."