Trump snubs Super Bowl champions
DONALD Trump has called off the Super Bowl champions' traditional visit to the White House over America's continuing national anthem controversy.
After a year of pressure from the president, the NFL recently announced players would be fined for kneeling during the pre-match playing of the anthem.
Dozens of players had been kneeling to protest police violence against black Americans.
The Philadelphia Eagles were supposed to visit the White House on Tuesday, but several key members of the team had decided not to attend as a way to protest Mr Trump's stance on the anthem.
Instead of welcoming the players who hadn't opted out, Mr Trump called off the visit entirely.
In a written statement, Mr Trump said the "smaller delegation" of players who accepted the invite were no longer coming because "the fans deserve better."
"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow," the statement read.
"They disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart, in honour of the great men and women of our country."
However, Mr Trump said he would still have the United States Marine Band and the US Army Chorus play the national anthem.
"The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1000 fan planning to attend the event deserve better," he said.
"These fans are still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony, one that will honour our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the national anthem.
"I will be there at 3pm with the United States Marine Band and the United Army Chorus to celebrate America."
In February, Eagles players Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long and Torrey Smith revealed they would not attend the customary ceremonial visit after the team's maiden NFL blockbuster win.
"I personally do not anticipate attending that, " Jenkins said during an interview in February.
Asked if he had a message for Mr Trump, the Pro Bowler said no.
"My message has been clear all year," he said.
Jenkins was one of many players who used the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality throughout the 2017 season.
"I'm about, you know, creating positive change in the communities that I come from, whether it be Philadelphia, New Jersey, Ohio, Louisiana or this entire country."
Mr Trump, who tweeted congratulations to the Eagles for their 41-33 win over the Patriots, called on NFL owners to fire "son of a b - h" players who protest during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner".