Nike released a statement that it supported athletes and the right they have to freedom of expression on issues of great importance to society.
The sports apparel maker made its opinion know amidst the public showdown that continues between President Donald Trump and NFL athletes who refuse to stand while the National Anthem is being played.
The NFL players have said they are using the gesture to protest the racial and social injustice in the U.S.
President Trump has harshly criticized the decision of the players to kneel during the anthem, as well as the NFL and NFL fans for supporting the players.
He has called on NFL owners to fire players who kneel and he has now called on fans to boycott NFL games until the players stop disrespecting the country.
Through the NFL 2019 season, Nike owns exclusive rights to make all the league’s uniforms.
Nike also holds a deal with the NBA, to become the provider of NBA official uniforms for its 2017-18 regular season, as part of its current eight-year deal with the professional basketball league.
Players in the NBA are also sparring with President Trump. After Golden State Warriors’ guard Stephen Curry told the media he did not want to attend a White House meeting with the president due to political reasons, the president said he had rescinded the invitation.
Trump tweeted that visiting the White House for a championship sports team was a great honor, but Stephen Curry is hesitating so the invitation has been withdrawn.
In response to that Cavaliers superstar LeBron James criticized Trump in a tweet.
Nike is only the latest company that has responded to the ongoing controversy. Under Armour, which has an endorsement contract with Golden State’s Curry, said last weekend that it stood for the U.S. flag and for athletes for freedom of expression, speech and a unified U.S.
NFL sponsor Ford said Monday that it respects the rights of individuals to express their own views, even if those views are not shared by our company.
Roger Goodell the NFL commissioner said the divisive comments such as the one made by President Trump demonstrate a lack of respect for everyone in the NFL and the league itself.
The controversy is expected to continue during Week 4 of the NFL that begins on Thursday night and continues Sunday and Monday.