Authors: Rio Sports
Twenty-seven players from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens took a knee during the singing of the US national anthem at Wembley Stadium on Sunday as the protest against the US president, Donald Trump, intensified. It was the most ever in a single NFL game.
Trump had increased his criticism of NFL players on Saturday, not only suggesting that fans of the sport should “refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country” but also urging any players who took a knee to be fired or suspended.
“NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN,” he added. “Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back US.”
However Trump’s testy demands were ignored by more than 80,000 fans at Wembley as well as a large number of players from the Jaguars and Ravens, who took a knee. The counted around 12 players from the Jaguars and 14 from the Ravens. There did not appear to be any white players taking a knee. However many players, coaches and even the Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan linked arms instead as they stood, showing unity for their black team-mates against Trump.
The Ravens’ players and coaching staff were also supported by their owner Steve Bisciotti, who said: “We respect their demonstration and support them 100%.”
The NFL’s rules encourage but do not require players to stand for the playing of the anthem. Several team owners have issued statements over the past 24 hours condemning Trump’s comments as divisive and supporting their players’ ability to express themselves.
The latest came on Sunday morning from the New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who said he was “deeply disappointed” by the president’s views.
Kraft, who has previously called Trump a very good friend when the Patriots visited the White House in April, said in a statement: “There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics.
“I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal,” he added. “Our players are intelligent, thoughtful, and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is impactful.”
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