Sport Other Sports ‘Tackle the Muslim’: US sports star gets horrible welcome
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‘Tackle the Muslim’: US sports star gets horrible welcome

This is what Kaepernick and some of his teammates have been doing during the US national anthem. Photo: Getty
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Colin Kaepernick’s ongoing protest against racial oppression and police brutality has seen him the subject of a hostile welcome in Buffalo.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback made his first NFL start in 11 months against the Bills on Sunday (US time) and was booed throughout his side’s 45-16 defeat.

It got far worse, though, with offensive t-shirts bearing Kaepernick’s face produced by Buffalo supporters, who also took part in a tasteless game of ‘Tackle the Muslim’.

Buffalo fans, urged on by others before the match started, crash-tackled a dummy of Kaepernick to repeated cheers.

Kaepernick’s girlfriend is Muslim but he is not.

Only last month, he denied reports he had converted to Islam.

The 28-year-old – who missed much of the 2015 campaign with a shoulder injury – has attracted widespread attention this year after sitting during the United States national anthem in pre-season matches.

He said at the time: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour.”

He is now kneeling during the anthem – a move that some other athletes are also doing – and repeated the dose against Buffalo.

That saw Bills fans chant ‘USA! USA!’ before the anthem.

When quizzed on Sunday if his behaviour might be seen as un-American, Kaepernick responded: “I don’t understand what’s un-American about fighting for liberty and justice for everybody, for the equality this country says it stands for.

“To me, I see it as very patriotic and American to uphold the United States to the standards that it says it lives by.”

Reports a bottle was thrown at Kaepernick were not confirmed by the footballer, who said: “If they did [throw a bottle], they didn’t have very good aim.

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Kaepernick looks at the crowd. Photo: Getty

“But I had some Bills fans before the game come up and say they are supporting me so I think it all depends on who the person is.

“At the end of the day, I’m going to continue to fight for what I’m fighting for.”

Trump weighs in

With Kaepernick’s protests getting more and more attention by the week, many of the country’s politicians have stepped forward to offer their two cents.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump believes Kaepernick’s acts are “very bad” for the spirit of the country.

“I think what he’s doing is disgraceful,” he told Fox News earlier this month.

“Is he starting yet or is he still a second-string quarterback?”

“He’s making a tremendous amount of money. He’s leading the American dream. He’s trying to make a point. But I don’t think he’s making it the correct way.”

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Kaepernick is tackled during the match against Buffalo. Photo: Getty

Mr Trump even implied that if he was the owner of the 49ers, he would consider sacking Kaepernick.

“Personally, if it was me, I would not be happy if I were the team owner and I don’t think I’m going to tell you what I would do, but I’m telling you, I would take a different position,” he added.

The inspiration

Kaepernick – who has received numerous death threats for his stance – says he “can’t let” Muhammad Ali die in vain.

Kaepernick reportedly arrived in Buffalo wearing an Ali t-shirt and when asked about him after the match, he said he was trying to follow the legendary boxer’s example.

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Kaepernick before Monday’s match. Photo: Getty

Ali fought for racial equality and social justice, among other things, during and after his career.

“He was someone, that he fought a very similar fight and was trying to do what’s right for the people,” he said.

“And for me to be able to have someone like that come before me is huge.

“People remember him more for that than they do as a boxer and I can’t let him die in vain.

“I have to be able to try to carry that on and try to fight that same fight until we accomplish our goal.”

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