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Vice President Mike Pence walks out of NFL game after players kneel for anthem

Pence said: ” I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the flag and our national anthem.”

US VICE PRESIDENT Mike Pence walked out before the start of an American football game today, after players again knelt during the national anthem.

The former Indiana governor was attending the game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers, but didn’t stick around very long after a number of 49ers players took a knee.

He later posted on Twitter that he left because he “will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag or our national anthem”.

In a later tweet, he said: “While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the flag and our national anthem.”

NFL players have been kneeling during the anthem for the best part of a year now since quarterback Colin Kaepernick started taking the action to protest against the treatment of black people by police departments across the US.

President Trump has called out NFL players very publicly for the practice, and launched an angry tirade when speaking to a crowd in Alabama at a Senate campaign rally last month.

Speaking at the rally, the American president drew loud cheers and chants of “USA, USA, USA” when he said fans should “leave the stadium” when it happens because it shows “disrespect of our heritage”.

“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’s fired!’” Trump said at the rally podium.

“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it (but) they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”

NFL players, owners and coaches have remained defiant however, with a number continuing the protest.

Miami Dolphins v New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium New Orleans Saints players taking a knee last week during the anthem Source: Simon Cooper/PA Images

For example, the Seattle Seahawks team issued a statement after Trump’s comments, saying:

We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of colour in this country. Out of love for our country and in honour of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms.

Pence had been attending today’s game to honour of the sport’s greats, Peyton Manning, who had a statue unveiled to him outside the Colts’ ground this week.

With reporting from Paul Hosford

Read: Newton apologises for ‘degrading and disrespectful’ comments to female reporter

Read: Trump has another swipe at the NFL: ‘Their business is going to hell’

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Sean Murray

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