24/09/2017 23:24 BST

Donald Trump Says His Criticism Of NFL Has 'Nothing' To Do With Race

'I’ve never said anything about race'.

President Donald Trump insists his criticism of US NFL players who kneel during the national anthem is not racial in nature, despite the act being a protest against police brutality across the country.

“This has nothing to do with race. I’ve never said anything about race,” Trump told reporters in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Sunday.

He added: “I think the owners should do something about it. It’s very disrespectful to our flag and our country.” 

In a Friday speech in Alabama, Trump called NFL players who kneel “sons of bitches,” and then doubled down on his criticism in a series of follow-up posts on Twitter.

More than a hundred NFL players from several football teams kneeled or held arms in solidarity during Sunday’s opening ceremonies. Trump again weighed in on Twitter, expressing his disapproval with those who knelt.

Pool via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions from the press after stepping off Marine One on the South Lawn.

“Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!” he wrote.

Over the weekend, Trump blasted several African-American sports figures in the NFL and the NBA, including Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry.

Some, like Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, shot back by calling Trump a “bum”.