A Burnley fan who took responsibility for the ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ banner displayed from a plane above the Etihad Stadium has been fired from his job, British media reported on Wednesday.
Jake Hepple, 24, who stated on Facebook that he had been involved in the incident which took place at the start of Burnley's Premier League match at Manchester City on Monday, was dismissed by aerospace manufacturer Paradigm Precision.
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The company said in a statement that it “did not condone or tolerate racism in any form”.
The banner was a response to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign which has been widely supported by Premier League clubs.
The Lancashire Telegraph reported Hepple's girlfriend Megan Rambadt, who worked at Solace Foot Health and Reflexology, was also sacked after she refused to attend racial sensitivity training.
A Lancashire Police investigation into the incident found that no criminal act had taken place.
The banner has been strongly condemned by Burnley Football Club, who have said those involved will be banned for live from their matches.
Since the restart of the season after the COVID-19 stoppage Premier League players have worn ‘Black Lives Matter’ on their shirts in place of their names and taken a symbolic knee before kickoff.
This follows the league formally joining the international protest campaign sparked by the death last month of George Floyd, a Black man, while in Minneapolis police custody.
Hepple, 24, told the Daily Mail that there had been an “over-reaction” to the incident.
“We were not trying to offend the movement or black people,” he said.
“I believe that it's also important to acknowledge that white lives matter too. That's all we were trying to say.
“I stand by this banner and what it says 100 percent. I'm not sorry at all and I'm not ashamed of what I've done.”
‘Disgusting’ banned slammed by football community
The banner was widely condemned in the football community, with a statement from Burnley reading: "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.”
Players and fans were also fuming, with Burnley captain Ben Mee saying they were “ashamed and embarrassed.”
Disgusting, let's find out who organised this ASAP... https://t.co/KdMP0fXq1u— CaughtOffside (@caughtoffside) June 22, 2020
Sickening to Witness: A light aircraft buzzes over stadium during Premier League game between Manchester City and Burnley towing a banner proclaiming "White Lives Matter - Burnley." Every Nation has so much work to do #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/hr9nRjuDH3— roger bennett (@rogbennett) June 22, 2020
It's an absolutely shocking moment, the true significance of which actually takes a bit to sink in.— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) June 22, 2020
A plane has just flown over the Man City V Burnley game with a banner that says “White lives matter - Burnley.”— Freddie (@FreddieBailey96) June 22, 2020
An absolute disgrace.