Stay off the field if you want to protest
AMERICA'S National Football League teams have agreed to fines if their players do not stand on field during the national anthem.
Those who want to protest by kneeling during The Star-Spangled Banner must stay in locker rooms and out of the spotlight.
During a meeting in Atlanta overnight, NFL team owners voted in favour of the new policy to address the firestorm surrounding players kneeling during the anthem to protest racism and police brutality.
While many spectators applauded the protests, it also drew the ire of others for disrespecting the county and the flag.
United States President Donald Trump was among those outraged, declaring on Twitter that "sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country" and the "NFL should change policy!".
He also told players they should be filed if they did not respect the "Great American flag".
The kneeling controversy began in 2016 when San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in protest - seeking to highlight racism and police brutality.
The issue escalated when teammates and other NFL players began kneeling too.
But he said players would be allowed to stay in their locker rooms for the anthem, also a change in policy.
"We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society," he said.
"The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed.
"The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business.
"We are honoured to work with our players to drive progress."
Mr Goodell said it was unfortunate on-field protests created a false perception to many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic.
He said he believed the decision would keep focus on the game, the extraordinary athletes who played and the fans.
"This is not and was never the case," he said.
"This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
"Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.
NFL POLICY STATEMENT
The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.
The membership also strongly believes that:
1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
2.The game operations manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem.
3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.
4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
6. The commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.