American footballer Colin Kaepernick - SIPA

Professional football boss Roger Goodell apologized on Friday for failing to listen to players calling on the court to condemn racism and support the protests after George Floyd's death. “It was a difficult time for our country. In particular, for black people in our country. We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of blacks. We the NFL admit that we were wrong not to have listened to the players in the league earlier. We the NFL encourage everyone to speak out and protest peacefully, ”said Goodell in a post on social media.

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

- NFL (@NFL) June 5, 2020

"We, the NFL, believe that the lives of black people matter," he added, using the slogan "Black Lives Matter". This intervention follows criticism of the league for its reaction to the May 25 drama in Minneapolis, where it made no reference to racism or police brutality.

George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, died after being arrested by a white police officer, who supported a knee on his neck for more than eight minutes.

The Kaepernick case in 2016

Several NFL stars on Thursday, including quarterback Patrick Mahomes, winner of the last Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs, released a video in which they demanded that the court condemn the racist violence and support the protests. "How many times do we have to ask you to listen to your players?" Asks Tyrann Mathieu (Chiefs). "What should be?" continues DeAndre Hopkins (Arizona Cardinals), “so that one of us is murdered by police brutality?” adds Jarvis Landry (Browns).

Goodell had already been criticized for his handling of the protest movement launched by former San Francisco 49ers star Colin Kaepernick, the first to put his knee on the ground during the national anthem in 2016 to protest against police violence against blacks . He is committed to being an ally for the players. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country," he said.

Green Bay Packers player Aaron Jones expressed satisfaction. "I'm just glad he's listening. He corrected his error, ”he commented. In the NFL, some 70% of players are black, but coaches, managers, referees and commentators are mostly white. And this league, the most popular in the United States, has long struggled with issues related to racism.

Many team owners support Donald Trump, who in 2017 called the kneeling players "sons of bitches", saying they should be fired. For three years, Kaepernick has been without a club, none wanting to take the risk of hiring him.

This week in some demonstrations, many people, including some police officers, in turn put their knees on the ground. And many athletes paid tribute to the courage of Kaepernick.

Trump for his part reiterated that it was necessary "to be upright and upright, ideally with a greeting or a hand on the heart (...) but in no case on your knees" in front of the American flag. And he criticized Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints star, who apologized after he too felt that kneeling was disrespectful.

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