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NFL stars defy Donald Trump over anthem call

By Dave Campbell

At least 100 American football players have used the national anthem to show their defiance to President Donald Trump's criticism, by kneeling or sitting in protest.

The owners of two leading teams also joined a chorus of NFL executives criticising President Trump's suggestion that they fire players who kneel for The Star-Spangled Banner.

The statements - from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti - followed another controversial morning tweet from the President.

Most teams in yesterday afternoon's games locked arms in solidarity and at least three team owners joined their players.

More than 100 players sat or knelt, the form of protest against the treatment of black people by police started last season by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the locker room as the national anthem played before their game with the Chicago Bears. Coach Mike Tomlin stood by himself on the sideline.

Mr Tomlin had said before the game that "we're not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda".

Ravens owner Mr Bisciotti said he "100%" supports his players' decision to kneel during the national anthem. At least seven of them did, joined by more than a dozen Jacksonville Jaguars, before the teams played at Wembley Stadium in London.

Without identifying Mr Kaepernick, Mr Trump aimed a Friday speech in Alabama at players who knelt for the anthem.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say: 'Get that son of a b**** off the field right now. Out! He's fired'," he said to loud applause.

Belfast Telegraph

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