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President Donald Trump will host Philadelphia Eagles football fans at the White House Tuesday, despite disinviting the Super Bowl-winning team itself the night before.
The fans will instead "honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem" at the event, which will include performances by the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus, Trump said.
In a statement released Tuesday by press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House said Trump rescinded the Eagles' invitation because only a "tiny handful of representatives" from the team were planning to attend the ceremony.
The statement said that the team asked on Friday to reschedule the event and then offered to send a small number of players.
"In other words, the vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans," the White House said.
The Eagles did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the White House's statement.
In Trump's Monday night announcement disinviting the Eagles, he said the team would be "unable" to attend the event, claiming they "disagree with their President" on standing for the National Anthem "in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country."
That statement also referenced the small number of players expected to attend. "The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better," Trump said.
Trump has been on the frontlines of a cultural debate surrounding the kneeling protests from some NFL players during "The Star-Spangled Banner." In tweets and at political rallies, he has called on the league to punish players who kneel.
Critics were quick to point out reports that no Eagles players had actually knelt during a regular season game last season.
Eagles receiver Torrey Smith pushed back on the president in series of tweets Monday night, calling his decision "cowardly" and accusing the president of spreading "the false narrative that players are anti-military."
In a tweet sent shortly after the statement was issued, he also referenced the NFL's new policy — which has not yet been put into practice — requiring players to either stand for the anthem on the field or wait in the locker room until the song has ended.