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'White Lives Matter' banner disheartening, says Richards

FILE PHOTO: Aston Villa's Micah Richards. Britain Soccer Football - Aston Villa v Brentford - Sky Bet Championship - Villa Park - 16/17 -14/9/16. Action Images / Craig Brough

(Reuters) - Former England defender Micah Richards says he was disheartened after a plane carrying a banner reading, ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ flew over Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium at the start of Monday’s Premier League game.

Burnley condemned the incident, which occurred shortly after players and officials took a knee in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.

“It’s so disheartening. After how far we’ve come in the last couple of weeks, it really does hurt me,” former City defender Richards said on Sky Sports.

“I agree, everyone should have free speech, but just at a time when things are on the up, a small fraction just want to spoil things.”

The Premier League has joined the international movement to protest racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, while in Minneapolis police custody last month.

“Burnley have come out and condemned it, but it just shows you -- I speak to a lot of people who say, ‘all that stuff happens in America, it doesn’t happen in England’,” Richards added.

“... We can wear t-shirts, we can do ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, and slowly we’re getting better. But it just shows today, that although it’s a small minority, it’s still happening.”

Former Burnley skipper Frank Sinclair said on Twitter he was disappointed by the incident.

“Please understand the message #BlackLivesMatters is for the good of humanity not just Black lives,” he said.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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