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Some NFL players kneel during US anthem again

Donald Trump had demanded an end to the protest but over 40 players again protested

Buffalo Bills players take a knee during the national anthem before the first half of their NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons. Photograph: PA

Several dozen NFL players, fewer than last week, chose to sit or kneel during the US national anthem at the start of games on Sunday, a day after US President Donald Trump again demanded an end to a protest he sees as a sign of disrespect for the flag.

The symbolic gesture, initiated last year by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, snowballed last week following calls by Trump for team owners to fire athletes who sat out the anthem.

On Sunday, more than 40 players, many of them on the 49ers, sat or knelt on one knee during renditions of the “Star-Spangled Banner” in the 15 National Football League games, compared with 180 players in all 16 games a week earlier.

Some African-American players have adopted the practice of kneeling during the anthem to protest against police treatment of racial minorities.

Critics including Trump object to any protest, regardless of its merits, during a ceremony meant to honor the flag and military veterans.

Some 30 members of the 49ers knelt before a game in Arizona on Sunday, and their general manager and chief executive stood behind them, The Mercury News in the San Francisco Bay area reported.

In Seattle, several members of the Seahawks sat out the national anthem, while their opponents, the Indianapolis Colts, linked arms along the sidelines.

In other games, players on some teams went to one knee before the anthem was played and then rose as a team when the song began. Players on a handful of teams stood with raised fists during parts of the anthem or after it, according to a team-by-team rundown from sports television network ESPN.

At London’s Wembley Stadium, where the NFL’s first game was played on Sunday, three members of the Miami Dolphins knelt as US singer Darius Rucker performed the US anthem. All of the other uniformed Dolphins and their opponents, the New Orleans Saints, stood along the sidelines, many with their right hands over their hearts.

The three players who had knelt stood for the British anthem.