US & Canada

American Football player Kaepernick refuses to stand for anthem

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stands on the field before their NFL pre-season football game against the Denver Broncos Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Kaepernick made the protest during an exhibition game (file picture)

A US National Football League (NFL) quarterback has refused to stand for the national anthem in protest at what he sees as racial injustice.

Colin Kaepernick, who plays with the San Francisco 49ers, remained seated as the anthem was played.

"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 explained.

Some fans booed the player when he took to the field.

But his team said they supported his right to protest, which took place as the 49ers hosted the Green Bay Packers in a pre-season game on Friday.

US anthem and flag: Etiquette and law

"We recognise the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem," the team said.

'Bigger than football'

An NFL spokesman said players were "encouraged but not required" to stand during the anthem.

Image copyright AP

Colin Kaepernick

  • 28 years old, biracial, adopted and raised by white parents in Wisconsin
  • Joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2011
  • Former starter who led the team to the NFL's title game, the Super Bowl, in 2013, which they lost to the Baltimore Ravens. Since demoted to back-up
  • Has signature touchdown celebration known as kaepernicking, involving the flexing and kissing of his right bicep
  • Set an NFL record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback (181) in the 2012 season play-offs

Kaepernick has been outspoken on social media about race relations and is a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.

"To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way," Kaepernick told NFL Media.

"There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.''

He appeared to be referring to police use of deadly force which sparked the Black Lives Matter protests.

Kaepernick's gesture has drawn a strong reaction online

Image copyright @dbongino
Image copyright @jbouie
Image copyright @IanKenyonNFL
Image copyright @KeithOlbermann
Image copyright @Racalto_NFL
Image copyright @samwhiteout

Current and former athletes weighed in on the debate too

Image copyright @aubrey_huff
Image copyright @jcraw55
Image copyright @TJ_Yates
Image copyright @TikiBarber

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