Trump NFL row: US president denies comments were race-related

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US President Donald Trump has said his comments about national anthem protests have “nothing to do with race”.
A number of sports players and teams demonstrated during the US national anthem over the weekend.
The protests involved players kneeling, linking arms or staying in the locker room during the Star-Spangled Banner.
The president first said on Friday at a rally in Alabama that players who fail to stand during the national anthem should be fired or suspended.
His criticism seemed to galvanise players, teams and the league to assert what they saw as a right to freely express political convictions.
“The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Monday morning, reiterating his statement to reporters a day earlier.
“It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
Recording artists Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Pharrell Williams have shown solidarity by joining in the demonstrations at weekend concerts.
The president’s latest foray into the US culture wars comes after he was widely criticised for appearing to say anti-racism demonstrators were just as bad as far-right activists, after clashes at a deadly white supremacist rally in Virginia in August.
National Football League (NFL) player Colin Kaepernick first sat down during the anthem in preseason in 2016.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour,” he said.
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
Kaepernick continued to demonstrate amid fierce criticism but this season remains a free agent.
Some commentators suggest he may have been “blackballed” from the sport as clubs fear a backlash for signing him. (BBC Sport)

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