DHAKA — The NFL will be the last of the major professional sports leagues to honor the flag during the national anthem before kickoff Sunday.
The NFL and NFL Players Association, which represents NFL players, agreed Monday to end their ongoing dispute over whether to continue with the anthem protests.
The resolution was reached after months of negotiations and after the NFL Players Council, the union representing the league’s 1,600 active players, endorsed a proposal to end the anthem controversy.
The NFL has faced criticism for not doing more to stop the protests, especially after a slew of protests last season over the death of an African-American man, Eric Garner, in New York.
Several players and coaches also said they were concerned about the anthem-related backlash from fans and advertisers.
The league and NFLPA reached an agreement after months and months of negotiation that will allow the league and players to continue to kneel for the national song during pregame ceremonies.
The anthem protests have been a focal point of the NFL season, which has been marred by violent clashes with police and by players protesting the racial injustice faced by African-Americans in the U.S. In January, the league announced it was suspending the anthem for a second time.
“It is clear that players are upset with the national dialogue and the way the anthem has been handled during the 2016 season,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement.
“We are pleased that the league has now reached an accord on our terms and agreed to continue the protest for the rest of the season.
We look forward to continuing to work together and the league to make our fans happy.”
The NFLPA said it will meet on Monday with NFL owners to discuss how the league can continue to address the anthem issue.
The players have been in a dispute with the league for the past two years over the protests.
Players and coaches have protested the anthem during pre-season games.
The protests began when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the playing of the national Anthem in protest of police brutality.
In February, the NFL announced that it would suspend the anthem after a protestor fell to the ground during the anthem.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the suspension was appropriate for a player who took a knee during the Anthem.
The union and the NFLPA are scheduled to meet again Monday, the day after the season opener against the New England Patriots.
The league has not said when it will announce the new national anthem policy, and it has not announced how long it will take for the anthem policy to be finalized.