The chairman of the National Football League (NFL), the largest professional American football league in the United States, acknowledges on Friday that players who peacefully protested racist injustice and police brutality have not listened well enough in recent years.

NFL Chairman Roger Goodell admits in a video that it was wrong not to listen to players before and encourages everyone to speak up and protest peacefully now. "We, the National Football League, believe that black lives matter," said Goodell.

The NFL has been in debate for years with players getting down on one knee during the performance of the National Anthem before a game, a form of protest currently used massively in the US and around the world during the Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd.

This protest was launched in 2016 by Colin Kaepernick. The then quarterback of San Francisco 49ers and players who followed his example received much criticism, because quite a few Americans found their statement disrespectful to the armed forces and the American flag. Because of his action, Kaepernick has been without a club in the NFL for more than three years.

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We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange

AvatarAvatar Author NFL Moment of places 22: 31 - June 5, 2020

See also: Kneeling Kaepernick is now being followed en masse: 'It is enough'

Trump: 'Don't kneel during the national anthem'

The NFL's statement comes just hours after US President Donald Trump again announced on Twitter that he is against the knee protest during the national anthem. "We should be standing upright, ideally with a salute or a hand to heart," Trump said, adding " NO KNEELING " in capitals .

Trump echoed his stance after American footballer Drew Brees, one of the NFL's best and best-known players, apologized on Thursday for an interview reiterating that he is against kneeling during the US national anthem.

"In an effort to talk about unity and solidarity around the flag and the anthem, I said things about the current problems in our country that were numb and completely off the mark," 41-year-old Brees writes in a long post on Instagram . "It breaks my heart that I've caused so much pain."

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NFL stars demand more action from competition against racism