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No plans for standing rule, says NFL's Goodell

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Minneapolis (AFP)

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday there were no plans to make standing for the US national anthem mandatory, saying the league preferred to work with players to promote social causes.

Speaking at his annual press conference ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl in Minneapolis, Goodell said he did not anticipate revisiting the question of how players react during renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner.

The NFL was thrown into turmoil earlier this season after President Donald Trump attacked players who kneeled during the anthem in an effort to draw attention to social injustices.

Trump also criticised the NFL and Goodell for refusing to punish players who kneeled, and declining to make standing mandatory.

Goodell however said Wednesday the league would instead continue to work with players and owners to promote dialogue.

The NFL has pledged $100 million to social causes close to the heart of the Players Coalition.

"Our focus is going to continue on building the platforms that the owners and players spent a great deal of time, with unprecedented dialogue, creating all season long," Goodell said when asked about an anthem rule.

"We're excited by that. We've created a committee of players and owners that have met in person once, and on the phone twice.

"We are focused on what we can do to evolve that platform, make the platform effective in what the players are interested in -- which is making our communities better, seeing injustices that they see in their local communities that we can address collectively."

Asked whether the league would consider a policy of keeping players in the locker room during the anthem next season, Goodell replied: "I don't know what we'll consider in the offseason. Right now I'm focused on the Super Bowl. We'll turn our attention to the priorities in the offseason."

Goodell, who said he had not spoken to Trump since the furore erupted last September, added that the league would not get involved in helping find a spot on a team for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who launched the protests in 2016.

Kaepernick has not been able to land a roster spot since being released by the 49ers in early 2017, prompting some to assert that he has been deliberately frozen out by team owners.

"All the clubs individually have to make their own decisions about who's on the roster and who's not on the roster," Goodell said.

"That's something that the clubs have to decide. We as a league do not get involved with that in any way."

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