Richards blasts Burnley fans for disgusting white lives matter banner

‘It’s so disheartening… after how far we’ve come in these last couple of weeks, it really does hurt me’: Micah Richards blasts Burnley fans for flying ‘disgusting’ ‘white lives matter’ banner over the Etihad

  • Premier League players have shown their support for Black Lives Matter recently
  • But a banner was flown over the Etihad on Monday reading ‘white lives matter’ 
  • Sky Sports pundit Micah Richards said he was hurt to see the banner flown 

Micah Richards has admitted he was ‘hurt’ to see a ‘white lives matter’ banner flown over the Etihad ahead of kick-off on Monday night.  

A plane trailing the message was visible as players took the knee before Manchester City beat Sean Dyche’s side.

The aircraft circled the stadium for several minutes, with players seen shaking their heads in disgust at a banner reading ‘white lives matter Burnley’. A man based in Lancashire hosted a live broadcast of the fly-over from outside the Etihad Stadium on his Facebook account.

Former defender Micah Richards said it was ‘disheartening’ to see the banner flown on Monday

It followed a week in which every Premier League player had worn a ‘Black Lives Matter’ emblem on their shirt, the phrase in the place of their names and had taken a knee ahead of each game kicking off as the Premier League returned.

Former City defender Micah Richards, working as a pundit for Sky Sports, said it represented a set-back after recent progress.

He told the channel: ‘I checked my phone and a lot of people have sent it to me, and it’s so disheartening. 

‘After how far we’ve come in these last couple of weeks, it really does hurt me. 

A message reading ‘white lives matter Burnley’ was visible as players took the knee 

‘I agree that everyone should have the free speech, but just at the time when things were looking on the up, you’ve got just a small fraction, it’s not everyone, who just want to spoil things. 

‘It was very disheartening to see but I don’t want to make a big thing about it when we’ve got something so positive going on. I’d like to think it was a small percentage but it was disheartening to see.’ 

Richards continued: ‘I was fortunate enough to play with Ben Mee, he’s a nice lad and he spoke from the heart there. That’s all you can ask him to do. Burnley have come out and condemned it. But it just shows, I spoke to a lot of people: “Oh it’s only happening in America, it doesn’t happen in England.”

‘Well it’s proof today that I know it’s a small minority, but they do feel like that.

‘I don’t want to fight fire with fire, I want to educate these people – I would love to know, even the pilot, surely that’s go to go through someone and say we’re going to fly a plane with ‘white lives matter’, there’s different processes to make that happen. I would like to see them and ask them: “Why do you feel this way?” 

Richards said the banner was proof of a small minority of people who do hold those views

‘Explain to me why you feel like this way. I’ve been around a lot of black people, a lot of white people, I’m genuine in my heart. I don’t understand why people actually feel this way. Until we actually understand why, then nothing’s going to change, it’s really not. 

‘We can wear t-shirts, we can do BLM protests and slowly we’re getting better, but it’s just shown today – even though it’s a small minority, it’s still at me.’

‘It’s everyone versus racists. I’ll say it again – I don’t know how many times I have to say it. 

‘Saying white lives matter, it’s making it a race war and that’s not what Black Lives Matter are protesting about. That’s what people are getting confused with – I’d just like to sit down with these people and actually get in their heads and why do they feel this way?

‘It’s disheartening for me, it’s not just me, there’s a lot of my friends who are white people who feel the same. 

Pundit Graeme Souness added that he was questioning decisions he’d made in the past

‘Joe Hart was going to post something on his Instagram, and he texted me and he asked me is this alright to post? Because he was obviously afraid of other people saying something to him, he didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

‘It goes deeper than just a plane, I’d like to get to the deeper root and make real change because today, that was absolutely disgusting.’

Fellow pundit Graeme Souness added: ‘Football’s done a great job of highlighting injustices, and we’re all behind it to a man. I’m a man in my 60s and for the very first time in my life I’m questioning myself. 

‘I can look back on only twice in my life in the football world was I confronted with racist remarks and I didn’t challenge them.

‘And I’m angry with myself now, I just brushed it off at the time, it wasn’t the dressing room – it was made by directors at football clubs and I didn’t challenge them at that time. And I think what’s happened in the last few weeks with Black Lives Matter is that we’re all questioning ourselves now.  

‘If someone says something racist, we’ll say something. I’m a bit like Joe Hart, I worry about saying the wrong things. I hear people saying things have got to change. 

The former Liverpool midfielder admitted he worried about saying the wrong things

‘We need to know – other than questioning people who say something racist – how can we improve the situation? What can a man of 60-plus do to be more part of the cause? Across generations, people are saying that.

‘As a white man I’ve never lived in black skin obviously, and I’ve not witnessed the prejudice, only time was when I was in a meeting with directors at football clubs and I’m annoying with myself that I didn’t challenge it at the time – but tomorrow I’d be in their face. 

‘I want to know what more I can do, how I can be more involved, how I can say and do the right things going forward. We need to be guided Micah, we all want to learn.’

Richards replied: ‘You know what I’d say: thank you for wanting to learn. That’s what the minority want, people to try to understand. 

‘There’s been times when I’ve been racially abused before and people have heard it, but they’ve turned a blind eye. We’re just asking to understand, and I appreciate your kind words Graeme.’  

The incident occurred as players took the knee ahead of kick-off on Monday evening

An emotional Ben Mee, Burnley captain, told Sky Sports: ‘I’m ashamed, embarrassed that a small number of our fans have decided to put that around the stadium.

‘We have a group of lads in there who are embarrassed.

‘These people need to come into the 21st century and educate themselves. They completely missed the point and don’t represent what we’re about. It’s a small minority of people. 

‘We heard some whispers it was going to happen. A small number have arranged this and I hope it doesn’t happen again. I’m ashamed and upset it’s associated with my club.

‘It’s not right, I totally condemn it. Hopefully these people can be taught on what the Black Lives Matter is trying to achieve. We want equality in society, in football, everything.’

Ben Mee also condemned fans that flew a banner reading ‘white lives matter’ over the Etihad

Burnley’s strongly-worded statement, sent at half-time, apologised ‘unreservedly to the Premier League, Manchester City and to all those helping promote Black Lives Matter’. 

‘Burnley strongly condemns the actions of those responsible for the aircraft and offensive banner,’ a club statement said. ‘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 take appropriate action.

‘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 our players and football staff willingly took the knee at kick-off at Manchester City.’   

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