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  1. ITV Report

Trump at centre of two sporting rows as NBA players consider White House snub

US President Donald Trump at the rally in Alabama. Credit: APTV

United States president Donald Trump has found himself at the centre of two separate sporting rows, with NFL players angry at his national anthem comments and NBA stars pondering skipping a visit to the White House.

During a rally in Alabama on Friday Mr Trump launched a scathing attack on the NFL players who protest during the American anthem, insisting their team owners should "fire" those who do

He followed it up on Saturday evening with a series of tweets aimed at players "making millions".

Various players across the league have taken a stand by kneeling or raising their fist during The Star-Spangled Banner since the start of last season, including high-profile figures such as Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett and Marshawn Lynch.

Kaepernick, who remains unemployed despite leading a team to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2012 season, was the first to protest over perceived racial injustice and police brutality.

Bennett recently admitted the scenes at a white supremacist rally in Virginia partially motivated his decision.

San Francisco 49ers Eli Harold, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem. Credit: PA

Speaking at a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Mr Trump criticised those who have decided to take a stance during the customary pre-game anthem.

He said: "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b**ch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired'. Wouldn't you love it?

"Some owner's going to do that. He's going to say, 'That guy who disrespects our flag, he's fired'. And that owner, they don't know it - they're friends of mine, many of them - they'll be the most popular person for a week in this country.

"That's a total disrespect of our heritage, that's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for. I know we have freedoms and freedom of choice and many different freedoms but it's still totally disrespectful."

On Saturday Mr Trump tweeted that he had rescinded an invite for NBA champion Stephen Curry to visit the White House after Curry said he would vote not to attend an event there.

It is customary for the NBA winners to do so; the Warriors visited Barack Obama in 2015 while the Cleveland Cavaliers were Mr Obama's final sporting guests last year.

Former president Barack Obama with the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. Credit: PA

Two-time MVP Steph Curry had earlier said his team can "send a statement" by snubbing it. Speaking at a press conference, he said: "I don't want to go".

Asked what it would achieve, he added: "(To show) that we don't stand for basically what our president has ... the things that he's said and the things that he hasn't said in the right times, that we won't stand for it.

"And by acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to.

"It's not just the act of not going there. There are things you have to do on the back end to actually push that message into motion."

Curry later told ESPN: "We have an opportunity to send a statement that hopefully encourages unity, encourages us to appreciate what it means to be American and stand for something ... we want to take advantage of this opportunity [by not going]."

Mr Trump's NFL speech was not well received by a number of current and retired NFL players on Twitter.

Washington linebacker Zach Brown wrote: "Trump stay in ur place... football have nothing to do wit u smh."

Detroit tight end Eric Ebron said: "Does anyone tell trump to stick to politics, like they tell us to stick to sports? Smh."

Current Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long, one of the New England Patriots Super Bowl winners that did not attend a function at the White House earlier this year, appeared to allude to Mr Trump's speech.

He wrote: "Player- Let's promote equality, help our communities. Mad Guy- All talk. Player- Actually I do/have done X. Mad Guy- U just want attention!"