Trump says he won't watch pro football, soccer if players kneel during anthem

President TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE blasted U.S. Soccer’s new policy rescinding a requirement that players stand for the national anthem, saying he would not watch games under the new policy and suggesting a similar move from the NFL was forthcoming.

“I won’t be watching much anymore!” Trump tweeted late Saturday, linking to coverage of Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzBipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy Eric Trump lawyer in New York attorney general's fraud case quits Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally MORE (R-Fla.), one of his closest allies in the House, also criticizing the decision.

ADVERTISEMENT

“And it looks like the NFL is heading in that direction also, but not with me watching!” Trump added in a later tweet, this time quoting condemnation from another top conservative House ally, Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanAllies see rising prospect of Trump 2024 White House bid Republican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee Watchdog group seeks ethics probe over McCarthy's Jan. 6 comments MORE (R-Ohio).

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump has been perhaps the most vocal critic of professional athletes who have knelt during the national anthem in protest of police killings of unarmed black Americans, saying in 2017 that any NFL player doing it should be fired.

Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, the issue, and the NFL’s response to the initial protests by former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has gained renewed attention.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this month issued a statement of support for black NFL players, saying the league stood against racism and apologizing for its earlier handling of player protests. Goodell did not mention Kaepernick by name in the statement. The NFL briefly maintained a policy of fining teams if players refused to stand for the anthem.

Trump sharply criticized Goodell’s statement as well, accusing him of giving players the okay to “disrespect[…] our Country & our Flag.”