Donald Trump reignites kneeling controversy before Super Bowl, urging Americans to stand for national anthem

He issued statement from Florida estate where he hosted party to watch New England Patriots take on Philadelphia Eagles

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Sunday 04 February 2018 23:44
Comments
There were more kneeling protests at Wembley
There were more kneeling protests at Wembley

Donald Trump has reopened the so-called kneeling protest controversy by urging Americans watching the Super Bowl to stand for the national anthem.

“As many Americans come together to watch the Super Bowl, Melania and I extend our greetings and appreciation for those who make occasions like this possible, particularly the brave men and women of our armed forces,” Mr Trump said in a statement issued by the White House shortly before the game kicked off in Minneapolis.

“We owe these heroes the greatest respect for defending our liberty and our American way of life. Their sacrifice is stitched into each star and every stripe of our Star-Spangled Banner.

He added: “We hold them in our hearts and thank them for our freedom as we proudly stand for the national anthem.”

Last year, Mr Trump waded into the controversy over American Football players such as Colin Kaepernick, who had started kneeling during the national anthem in protest at the treatment of communities of colour, and in particular the way some white police officers treat minority suspects.

Stephen Colbert: "Kneeling has everything to do with race- just like your presidency"

While Mr Trump abused the players and called on the National Football League to fire then, support for the players has grown and the protests have spread.

Meanwhile, some conservatives have said the protests were disrespectful to military veterans, and many have boycotted the NFL.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said players “should” stand for the anthem, but has also refused to create a rule requiring them to do so. He said last week that the league may revisit the issue in the off-season.

“We send our best wishes for an enjoyable Super Bowl Sunday,” Mr Trump added in the message, drafted while he spent the weekend at his private Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, where he hosted a watch party to see the New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles.

“May God bless and protect our troops, and may he continue to bless the United States of America.”

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