Colin Kaepernick to be face of new Nike ad campaign

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick pumps his fist as he acknowledges cheers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 24, 2016.
Reuters

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Colin Kaepernick was a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers for six years

An American football star who sparked a furore by kneeling during the national anthem has been unveiled as the new face of a major advertising campaign.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will front Nike’s “Just Do It” 30th anniversary campaign.

In 2016 Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem in protest at police violence against African-Americans.

Many other players followed suit but the protest has divided the country.

President Donald Trump has called players who “disrespect” the US flag “sons of bitches” and called for them to be sacked.

The Nike adverts show Kaepernick with the slogan: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Kaepernick is one of a number of sports stars, including fellow National Football League (NFL) players Odell Beckham Jr and Shaquem Griffin, to appear in the 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

On Monday the star posted the advert and the slogan on his Twitter account.

Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of branding for North America, was quoted by cable sports network ESPN as saying: “We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward.”

One of the other stars of the Nike campaign, tennis great Serena Williams, expressed her support.

Some on social media though have been using the #BoycottNike and #JustBurnIt hashtags, a play on the company’s slogan. Country star John Rich posted a photo of a pair of socks with the Nike emblem cut off.

Kaepernick, 30, signed a sponsorship deal with Nike in 2011 and has been kept on its payroll throughout the kneeling controversy, ESPN reported.

The player opted out of his contract with the 49ers in 2017 and has not played since. He is currently suing the NFL claiming he is being kept out of the league because of his part in the protests.

In May this year, the NFL announced that teams whose players who knelt for the national anthem would be fined under a new policy.

The league said players not willing to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner could stay in the changing rooms until it had been performed.

However the new policy is yet to be imposed as negotiations between the league and the players’ union are ongoing.

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Reuters

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The on-field protests began in 2016 and divided the country

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