Players and coaches from Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin kneeled prior to Saturday's game against Schalke in a stand "for diversity and against violence."
"Berlin is colourful," the public address announcer at Olympiastadion Berlin said, according to ESPN FC's Stephan Uersfeld. "Hertha BSC stands for diversity and against violence. For this reason, we are joining forces with the protest of our fellow American athletes to take a stand against discrimination. For a tolerant Berlin, both now and forevermore."
Following Saturday's 2-0 loss, Ivorian forward Salomon Kalou told reporters Hertha Berlin got the idea to kneel from NFL players who have protested social injustice and racial inequality during the American national anthem.
"As Hertha we always fight against racism," he said, per Uersfeld. "For us, kneeling down is a way of fighting against this kind of behaviour. It should not exist in any kind of sport. Not in NFL, and not in football or soccer, like they call it in the U.S.—it shouldn't exist in any sport, period. For us, it's a good example to show."
In a memo sent to team executives and presidents Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote, "like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. ... We want to honor our flag and our country and our fans expect that of us," according to NPR's Amy Held.
However, a league spokesman later told NFL.com there will be no rule implemented that requires players to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also made waves when he stated players on his team who kneeled or protested during the anthem would be benched.
"If you do not honor and stand for the flag in the way that a lot of our fans feel that you should, if that's not the case, then you won't play," Jones said, according to the Dallas Morning News' Kate Hairopoulos. "That's nothing new as far as that being my wish or the way I want the Cowboys."