Burnley now lies on the brink of relegation after a 1-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday evening. If the Clarets cannot get something out of their remaining two games against Aston Villa and Newcastle United, they will be thrown to the gallows of the second tier of English football.
The tension was visible on the faces of Burnley fans in the away stands at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium after Harry Kane converted a penalty to give Spurs an indomitable lead. But among those worrisome faces, a rather unique anomaly came out to the fore when in a sea of ‘white’ supporters, a ‘black’ man dawning a vintage Burnley jersey was spotted.
To refresh your memory, let us take you back to 2020, when Burnley played Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. A plane carrying a ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ banner flew over the stadium, which left football fans all over the world aghast, especially at a time when players took the knee to support the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
Many Clarets fans came forward and criticized this act which they believed to be performed by the far-right extremists who have been vying to break the club’s diversity at every juncture but a Burnley fan named Jake Hepple came forward and took responsibility for this brazen act.
Burnley has always borne the burden of the anti-Black rhetoric since the 70s and the 80s when a white supremacist group named Suicide Squad used to deploy hooliganism to instil fear amongst the Blacks entering the country.
In the game against Spurs on Sunday, a Burnley supporter was caught doing the ‘Nazi’ salute and was later apprehended by the Spurs officials after the game. The crisis of racism is much deeper. The club from Lancashire has a negligible black population and is usually associated with ‘Brexit,’ breeding racism in the process.
But the club has always maintained a clear stance on racism and worked towards eliminating all its elements from its system.
Despite their best efforts, racism seems to seep through. A few years ago, Burnley’s ex-striker Andre Gray faced a similar fate at a pre-season friendly against Bradford City, when the Burnley fans used racial slurs at him for hailing from Jamaica.
Given the flak received by Burnley for not fielding black players, it was even a bigger shock to see a black supporter at an away game in the Premier League.
Although some did joke that he was an Arsenal supporter in disguise, while others mentioned it was Burnley’s forward, Maxwel Cornet’s effect that turned a black man into a Burnley supporter, given the club’s unhealthy tryst with racism.
Whatever might be the case, football keeps surprising us with bizarre spectacles both on and off the pitch.