NFL Owners Say Players Must Stand For The National Anthem

(CNN) — This season, NFL players must stand during the National Anthem, team owners decided Wednesday in Atlanta — a reaction to fierce backlash against some who took a knee in symbolic opposition to the systemic oppression of people of color, including by police.

A statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said team owners unanimously agreed that the NFL can fine a team whose players protests on the sidelines during the National Anthem, but that each team will set will its own rules regarding players who want to kneel.

Players cannot be fined by the league. They also will be allowed to remain in the locker room while the anthem is played.

Previously, there had been no rule that prevented players from protesting.

“It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic,” Goodell said. “This is not and was never the case.”

Scores of players have joined in silent protests, initiated by quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 NFL season, to draw attention to what many describe as the systemic oppression of people of color, including by police.