Nike and Hyundai back NFL national anthem protests as Trump row rumbles on

Sportswear brand Nike and automaker Hyundai have lent support to athletes protesting during the US national anthem

Sportswear brand Nike and automaker Hyundai have lent support to athletes protesting during the US national anthem.

The stance has put the brands at loggerheads with US president Donald Trump, who has spoken out against the decision by some NFL players to kneel during pre-match renditions of the national anthem.

In a statement Nike affirmed it "supports athletes and their right to freedom of expression on issues that are of great importance to our society" while Hyundai took the opportunity to stress: "We stand for and respect individuals’ freedoms to express their First Amendment rights in any peaceful manner in which they choose."

Nike’s unqualified support follows more muted statements from fellow sponsors Ford, Under Armour and Anheuser-Busch, all of whom also chose to support the players right to protest – albeit by couching this backing in a patriotic embrace of the Stars and Stripes.

Vehicle manufacturer Ford said it would "respect individuals' rights to express their views, even if they are not ones we share," while Under Armour lent its support to both sides – asserting that it "stands for the flag and by our athlethes".

Anthem protests, in which players kneel in protest at perceived racial injustice and police brutality, have become politically charged after Trump called for NFL teams to fire players who refused to stand during the ceremony.

The vast majority of 37 NFL sponsors have chose to keep quiet on the issue.

John Glenday

John Glenday is responsible for compiling The Drum's daily morning bulletin and ensuring that overnight breaking news is covered while you're still brushing your teeth. Can also make a mean cup of tea.

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