Shahid Khan, American business tycoon of Pakistani descent and owner of NFL franchise Jacksonville Jaguars, joined players across the United States in protesting comments made by US President Donald Trump.
Khan, NFL’s only non-white, Muslim team owner, was pictured linking arms with tight end Mercedes Lewis and linebacker Telvin Smith in opposition to what he said were “divisive and contentious” tweets by Trump which called for players who failed to stand up for the national anthem to be struck off by the NFL.
Around 27 players of Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars knelt for their clash at Wembley Stadium and Khan, who also owns Championship football club Fulham, defended his side’s actions.
“It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the US national anthem at Wembley Stadium,” he wrote.
“I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honoured to be arm in arm with them, their team-mates and our coaches during our anthem.
“Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in any forms – race, faith, our views and our goals.”
A wave of protests swept across the NFL on Sunday as President Trump escalated his feud with players who kneel during the US national anthem to draw attention to racial injustice.
Trump ignited a firestorm of criticism when he urged fans to boycott the NFL as long as the protests continued.
“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” Trump wrote.
More than 150 players could be seen kneeling or sitting in the 14 games that took place Sunday, easily the largest such demonstration since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first began protesting in 2016.
“We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the president make it harder,” said Khan.
“That’s why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation,” he added.
Khan, 67, was born in Pakistan and immigrated to the United States to study engineering at the University of Illinois during his late teens. He worked at the automotive manufacturing company Flex-N-Gate while attending university, before leaving to start his own venture, Bumper Works.
The self-made billionaire has a net worth of $8.7 billion and employs over 13,000 people.