President Donald Trump has blasted the NFL players for kneeling and raising a fist in protest at the preseason games, saying those who fail to stand during the national anthem should be “suspended without pay”.
On Thursday, over the course of 12 National Football League (NFL) preseason games, several NFL players took a knee, raised their fists or stayed off the field as the national anthem played.
“The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem.
Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define.
They make a fortune doing what they love,” Trump tweeted yesterday.
“Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest.
Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!” he said.
Trump has attacked those kinds of protests for more than a year, even going so far as to say that players who do not stand for the national anthem “maybe shouldn’t be in the country,” the NBC News reported.
A new NFL policy announced earlier this year requires players to stand during the national anthem but gives them an option of remaining in the locker room during the pregame performance of the song if they choose.
The anthem-kneeling controversy has been raging since 2016 when Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback with the 49ers, first refused to stand as a lone protest against police brutality, particularly toward black Americans and racial oppression.
As the peaceful protests, conducted predominantly by black athletes, expanded, Trump began lashing out, criticising the kneeling as “disgraceful”.
Among several players who protested during Thursday’s games included Malcolm Jenkins, who raised a fist during the anthem.
“Before we enjoy this game let’s take some time to ponder that more than 60 per cent of the prison population are people of colour,” he tweeted ahead of the game.
“The NFL is made up of 70 per cent African-Americans.
What you witness on the field does not represent the reality of everyday America. We are the anomalies,” he was quoted as saying in the report.