Trump says he won't be watching NFL, US Soccer after bosses said they would allow players to kneel during anthem
The reversal by the sports bodies have come about in the wake of protests over George Floyd's death
President Donald Trump has reaffirmed his position against athletes kneeling during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality. The president reacted in a set of tweets Saturday to recent news about the NFL, the U.S. Soccer Federation, and their respective stances on the kneeling protests. U.S. Soccer -- the body which oversees U.S. teams that compete in the World Cup, the Olympics, and other tournaments -- recently rescinded its policy that players were required to stand during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a match, Fox News reported.
The U.S. Soccer reversal came just days after a video apology by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to black players in the league. Both came as responses to the outrage after the May 25 death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody and the unrest that followed across the nation.
While the president has described the Floyd case as “a very sad and tragic death,” he has remained firm in his previous opposition to protests during the playing of the national anthem. “I won’t be watching much anymore!” Trump commented while retweeting a news story about U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) calling out U.S. Soccer on its policy reversal.
Gaetz tweeted on Thursday that he'd "rather the US not have a soccer team" than allow players to kneel during the anthem. “You shouldn’t get to play under our flag as our national team if you won’t stand when it is raised,” the congressman added.
The U.S. Soccer ban on kneeling came in 2017 after women’s team player Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem to support former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick's "take a knee" movement as a form of protest against police brutality. But the federation said in a statement last Wednesday that its policy was “wrong and detracted from the important message of Black Lives Matter.” “We have not done enough to listen – especially to our players – to understand and acknowledge the very real and meaningful experiences of Black and other minority communities in our country,” the statement continued. “We apologize to our players – especially our Black players – staff, fans, and all who support eradicating racism.”
Ohio Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan also shared his thoughts on the controversial decision. “Let me get this straight,” Jordan wrote, “UNITED STATES Soccer won’t stand for the UNITED STATES National Anthem?”
Jordan's tweet was later shared by Trump. “And it looks like the NFL is heading in that direction also, but not with me watching!” the president added alongside. The commander-in-chief posted a speculative tweet last Sunday after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell formally apologized for the league not adequately addressing black players' concerns about racism. “Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?” Trump wondered, deeming Goodell's comments as rather a blessing for players to kneel during the upcoming season.