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US Sports

24th May 2018

Donald Trump suggests national anthem protesters should leave America

Jack O'Toole

United States of America President Donald Trump has suggested that NFL players who protest the American national anthem at games should ‘consider leaving the country’.

Last season hundreds of NFL players knelt during the Star Spangled banner to protest racial inequality, unarmed killings and police brutality against African-Americans.

Trump said last year that players who knelt during the anthem were disrespecting the American flag and that NFL owners should fire any player that chooses to stage a protest during the anthem.

The former Apprentice host said that any player that protests the anthem shouldn’t be there at the game after the NFL altered its policy regarding the national anthem on Wednesday, which no longer requires players to be on the field during its playing before games but allows clubs and the league to impose discipline for those who protest publicly during the anthem.

“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing,” Trump told Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade in an interview. “You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

Trump credited the people for pressuring the NFL into changing their policy and that America has a lot of very ‘smart’ people.

“I think the people pushed it forward. This was not me. I brought it out. I think the people pushed this forward,” Trump said. “This country is very smart. We have very smart people.”

Under the new policy players will no longer be required to be on the field during the anthem, but if they do not stand, they could face being fined.

The policy subjects teams to a fine if a player or any other team member do not respect the anthem.

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, if they choose to sit, kneel or raise their fist during the anthem.

“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” commissioner Roger Goodell said.

“We want people to stand — that’s all personnel — and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something we think we owe. [But] we were also very sensitive to give players choices.”