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Premier League: Burnley condemns “white lives matter” banner, but social media comments suggest football fans are still missing the point

Premier League: Burnley condemns "white lives matter" banner, but social media comments suggest football fans are still missing the point
Niki J. Layton
Written by Niki J. Layton

Burnley issued a statement during the match against Manchester City, saying that a lifetime ban would be issued on the club for those who caused the banner to fly, with captain Ben Mee and coach Sean Dyche speaking against it.

However, the club’s social media pages were filled with criticism of the club’s response.

Read a comment on Burnley’s Facebook page “Ben is your absolute insulting comment”.

“Both he and the Burnley press officer should collect their belongings in a cardboard box this morning and kick off the club.”

Another Facebook comment was: “So totally wrong Burnley, you have to pay for it. Hope they fly for the rest of your game,” while others said: “The racist scumbags condemning that flight” and “You should be ashamed to be ashamed of you idiots.”

“We do not favor social media comments with a statement,” a Burnley media spokesman told CNN.

On Tuesday, Burnley released a detailed statement detailing its policy of turning the company into a “club for all” and representing “all segments of our society.”

“The club maintains a zero-tolerance stance on any form of discrimination at Turf Moor and is increasingly issuing lifelong bans to supporters who incite racism and hatred,” it said in a statement.

“This regret will also be given to those who caused the tragic incident on Monday.”

In an interview with CNN anchor Phil Black on Tuesday, Burnley CEO Neil Hart said the club had to work around the “Black Lives Matter” message.

“There is a shortage of education around” Black Lives Matter, “says Hart.” If we can educate some of these people and I don’t have to be a patron – it can help us as a football club if we can educate some of our supporters. “

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‘I refuse to support them’

While Burnley’s social media channels have been infuriated by the banner, it is not uncommon for the club’s accounts to be engulfed in black Lives Matter comments and interactions.

Since the club began promoting Black Lives Matter content, many on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have denounced the club’s support – even going as far as saying some fans will stop supporting Burnley.

Last week, David Walker was particularly angry at the team’s decision to have the Black Lives Matter message on the back of players’ shirts.

“There should only be 1 thing on that shirt,” he said in a Facebook comment. “It’s Claret’s badge and I refuse to support them on Monday night for the first time in my life,” Walker added, referring to Burnley’s nickname. The team plays in Claret and Blue uniforms.

Not all comments are negative.

One customer said they were “very grateful for the support of the players and the club’s common courtesy”, while another said “Burnley Football Club is very proud of the community and what it stands for.”

When the negative comments started coming out last week – with the return of the Premier League – Burnley’s accounts came to light on the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Understand the meaning of the movement … This movement has existed and existed. This is a reaction to the unfair treatment of black people. Please understand it. Then we can have a conversation,” one user wrote.

In his post-match interview with Sky Sports, Mee said he thought of the “small minority of people” who did not support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ben chases your ball during a 5-0 loss to Burnley at Manchester City.

Lancashire police announced on Tuesday that a banner was under investigation to assess whether “any criminal offenses had been committed.”

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Clubs in the Premier League have supported the Black Lives Matter movement since the league reopened last week.

Players from the top 20 clubs wore “Black Lives Matter” on the back of their shirts with their names on their knees before kick-offs.

“We want to make it clear that Turf Moore is not welcome,” Burnley said in a statement on the “White Lives Matter” banner.

“In any case, this is what Burnley Football Club is all about and we work closely with authorities to identify those responsible and issue lifelong bans.

“The club has a proud record of working with people of all genders, religions and faiths through its award-winning community scheme and standing up against any form of racism.

“We are fully behind the Premier League’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ initiative and in line with all the other Premier League games that have taken place since the inception of the project, our players and football staff willingly took a knee at the kickoff in Manchester City.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche (right) takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche, who lost 5-0 in Monday’s game, said the banner was clearly unacceptable and former Burnley captain Frank Sinclair expressed his disappointment at the banner.

“#BlackLivesMater is not just for black lives but for the good of humanity,” said Sinclair.

About the author

Niki J. Layton

Niki J. Layton

Niki J. Layton is a journalist who writes on politics, environment and human rights in South Asia.

For 15 years, she has written for several publications and websites including TIME, Harper's, Al Jazeera, The Caravan, The Hindu, Scroll.in, Outlook, The Wire, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The Economic Times, Tehelka, and news channel CNN-IBN. She is an India correspondent for The Straits Times, Singapore.

Some of the awards she has received are the Red Cross Award for reporting on conflict, Mumbai press award for environmental reporting, and ILO award for writing on labour. Niki has a Masters in political journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, New York

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