Eletiofe NFL decision to permit kneeling protest by players ...

NFL decision to permit kneeling protest by players enrages Donald Trump


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The US National Football League is embroiled in a standoff with President Donald Trump after it said players would be allowed to “take the knee” during the American national anthem in protest against racism.

After the NFL announced its U-turn, Trump tweeted late on Friday night: “We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag – NO KNEELING!”

Support among sports personalities and organisations for the Black Lives Matter movement was also bolstered by an announcement from basketball star Michael Jordan that he was donating $100m (£79m) to organisations promoting racial equality. The move was a significant departure from the former Chicago Bulls player’s previous reluctance to be drawn into politics.

The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said late on Friday that the league’s earlier ban on players taking the knee had been mistaken. “We were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” Goodell said.

In a video posted on social media, he added: “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter. Protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff. I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve.”

The change in the NFL’s position came after some players urged the league to “condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people”.

The practice of taking the knee during the national anthem before games started in 2016 as a protest by black player Colin Kaepernick against racial injustice. In the past two weeks, it has become an international symbol of opposition to racism.

Trump has frequently denounced the action. Two years ago, he praised the NFL’s ban on taking the knee during the pre-game national anthem, saying: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. Or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

Last week, the president criticised New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees for dropping his opposition to NFL kneeling protests. Brees said, “it breaks my heart to know the pain I have caused”, adding that his earlier comments lacked “awareness, compassion or empathy”.

Trump tweeted that Brees “should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high …”

In a response on Saturday, Brees said: “We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial and prison reform.”

Jordan, 57, said he and his company, Jordan Brand, would give $100m over 10 years to the fight for racial equality and social justice. 

In a statement, the Jordan Brand said: “Black lives matter. This isn’t a controversial statement. Until the ingrained racism that allows our country’s institutions to fail is completely eradicated, we will remain committed to protecting and improving the lives of black people. 

“Today, we are announcing that Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand will be donating 100 million over the next 10 years to organisations dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education.” 

The Jordan Brand is a subsidiary of Nike, the shoe giant that on Friday pledged $40m over the next four years to support the black community. 

On Monday, Jordan issued a statement on George Floyd and the killings of black people at the hands of police. He said: “I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry. I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of colour in our country. We have had enough.”

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