American Football stars defy Trump and kneel during 'Stars and Stripes' at Wembley

Baltimore Ravens players kneel at Wembley (AP)

American footballers at Wembley have defied US president Donald Trump and kneeled during the traditional pre-match playing of the American national anthem.

The mass protest by players of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens comes little more than a day after Trump told club owners to fire players who knelt for the Stars and Stripes.

More than 20 players knelt during the anthem.

It has become a symbol of protest since last year when San Francisco 49ers quaterback Colin Kaepernick sat or kneeled during the anthem to highlight the treatment of black Americans.

On Friday, an angry Trump  said in a speech that the protest should no longer be tolerated.

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Players from Jacksonville Jaguars also knelt (Reuters)

‘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… he is fired”,’ Trump told a rally in Alabama.

He added that if fans would ‘leave the stadium’ when players knelt: ‘I guarantee, things will stop.’

But any hope that he might end the protest evaporated on Sunday in north London.

Some players though remained standing (Reuters)

Dozens of players could be be seen kneeling – as well as many remaining standing.

Trump’s raging had already been criticised by those in the NFL.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that ‘divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect’.

President Trump had taken to Twitter over the issue (Twitter)
Trump took the NFL to task (Twitter)

The NFL Players’ Association said Trump had crossed a line by effectively telling players to just ‘shut up and play’.

It was also described as a slap in the face to American civil rights’ heroes.

And on Saturday night, the Oakland Athletics’ Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to kneel in protest.