Pence leaves National Football League game after players kneel during anthem

Pence leaves National Football League game after players kneel during anthem

US Vice-President Mike Pence has walked out of a National Football League (NFL) game after several players refused to stand for the US national anthem. More than a dozen 49ers players knelt during the anthem, with their hands over their hearts, according to ESPN.

Pence, the former IN governor, had attended the game to watch a ceremony honouring former Colts great Peyton Manning scheduled for half-time, but chose to leave after the anthems.

Members of the Colts stood for the anthem with arms linked.

Many franchises have also released statements of support for their players, and a poll has also indicated a majority of Americans disagree with Mr Trump's demand for kneeling players to be fired.

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.

Pence was attending a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers.

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I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, is disrespecting our country.

Mr Pence tweeted he had left because he "will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag and our national anthem". I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.

It led to speculation that the move by Pence was simply an expensive publicity stunt, especially as he was under instructions from the USA president, Donald Trump, to leave the game if players took to their knees.

The first to manifest itself when the national anthem was the former quarterback of the 49ers Colin Kaepernick, who had refused to stand during a game in August 2016, and then had put a knee on the ground at subsequent meetings.

In his explanation for leaving Sunday's game, Mr Pence stressed that he stood with Mr Trump on the issue.

Critics of players kneeling at the pre-game playing of the national anthem, including Trump, object to any protest, regardless of its merits, during a ceremony meant to honor the US flag and military veterans.