Trump calls off White House visit of American football team amid national anthem row

WASHINGTON, June 4 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump Monday disinvited an American football team to an celebration at the White House, after alleging the team had protested during national anthems.

"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow," Trump said in a statement, adding that the team had wanted to "send a smaller delegation but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserved better."

The Eagles, which won the National Football Association championships in last season, was scheduled to visit the White House Tuesday.

The abrupt break of tradition, which saw the top teams of major sports franchises in the country visit the White House, was apparently due to lingering bitterness between Trump and the NFL over protests during national anthems that were played before each game.

"They disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country," Trump said.

Multiple Eagles players have reportedly joined a larger wave of protest that swept through the NFL last season in which players took to one knee during the national anthem as a form of protest against social injustice.

The protest prompted a fiery response from Trump, who accused the players as disrespectful of the U.S. flag and its military.

The protests have irked some NFL fans. Fearful of losing viewership, NFL team owners later agreed to ban players from protesting on the field but allow them to stay inside the locker room during the national anthem.

Despite the Eagles' absence, Trump said fans were still invited to the White House for a "different type of ceremony", where the national anthem will play "loudly and proudly".

[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]


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