Written by Staff Writer, CNN London
English football team the Manchester United has decided not to renew a shirt sponsorship contract in light of players taking a knee during the US national anthem ahead of some matches.
US President Donald Trump reportedly supported Man United’s decision. This came after the President delivered a fiery speech, while attending a rally in Alabama over the weekend, to criticize protesting football players.
“The MUTV commentary team commented that the sponsor who pays £24 million ($29 million) a year could be ‘going for high-profile to dissociate (sic) the club from a perceived anti-American stance,’ “‘ the club said in a statement on Monday . “With great disappointment for everyone at Man Utd, we are surprised by this as we have never supported President Trump in any way.”
“President Trump used utterly inappropriate language regarding these highly emotive issues,” the statement continued. “We choose to stand united with our players. Their right to peaceful protest is enshrined in our club’s constitution.”
A kneeling US athlete can lose major endorsement deals. In the US last year, about 20 major brands decided to cut ties with NFL star Colin Kaepernick after he began kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 2016 to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback had many high-profile clients including Gatorade and Pepsi, and he was on the shortlist to become the NFL’s first black commissioner.
Both the NFL and Nike have been criticized by President Trump since he spoke out against NFL players taking a knee in front of a crowd at the rally in Alabama.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired,'” he told his audience.
“I love the NFL, but 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.”