Words by Charles Odugbesan
Premier League football is well and truly back under way with the teams resuming the home stretch of the 2019/20 season after the COVID-19 outbreak had forced the stoppage of all sporting events.
During the outbreak, we have seen the global development of the Black Lives Matter movement and on the field, the footballing world has followed suit. Matchday commentators, pundits and media representatives are all sporting Black Lives Matter stickers in support of the cause and have not shied away from discussing the topic amongst themselves or indeed with the players. The players themselves (in the Premier League anyway) all have BLACK LIVES MATTER instead of their own surnames on the back of their shirts and have all made a point of taking a knee at the start of each game in a further show of solidarity.
If only the same unified actions were echoed up and down the country.
During the Manchester City vs Burnley fixture, 22/08/2020, a banner was flown over the stadium that read “WHITE LIVES MATTER BURNLEY.” The man behind this stunt was Burnley fan and Colne, Lanchashire resident Jake Hepple; seen below posing with a certain EDL affiliate. His Facebook message used the killing of three white men in Reading this past Saturday as the reason behind the stunt whilst also dismissing any notion that his actions were both racist or (more worryingly) that it is no different to the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement.
When asked for his thoughts on the 5-0 defeat to City, Burnley captain Ben Mee did not hide from the antics away from the field, instead choosing to address it primarily. “I am ashamed and embarrassed that a small number of our fans have decided to put that around the stadium. It completely misses the point of the whole Black Lives Matter movement… some of these people need to come into the 21st century and educate themselves… the club, the fans want equality in football whether it be race, religion, gender or the LGBT community.”
The club also released a statement condemning these actions.
Credit must be given to Ben especially – his comments on the situation were spot on. White Lives Matter misses the point. All Lives Matter misses the point. Black Lives Matter is much more than a statement and it certainly does not imply that any superiority is sought or that the lives of non black people are in any way inferior. Once again, we must stress that the movement exists to address blatant and systematic racism as well as police brutality. This is not an ethnicity contest.
Ignorance is not bliss… especially not in this case. Knowledge is power and lack of information may lead to dangerously ill informed retorts such as the one we have here. 14HQ encourages all to educate themselves on the topic and do all that you can to give yourself a clearer perspective on the events that are unfolding as we speak.
Visit the 14HQ website for further information pieces regarding Black Lives Matter.