Trump says he won't watch the NFL or US Soccer if players kneel during the national anthem

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Trump says he won't watch the NFL or US Soccer if players kneel during the national anthem
President Trump has previously vilified athletes like the USWNT's Megan Rapinoe and QB Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem.AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
  • President Donald Trump says he will refuse to watch NFL of US Soccer games if players kneel during the national anthem.
  • Trump tweeted Saturday that he "won't be watching much anymore" in response to Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz's critique of US Soccer's decision to allow players to engage in the protest of police brutality.
  • Trump's tweets come as the sports world and professional leagues re-examine Colin Kaepernick's protest and players' stances against social injustice.

When professional sports return, President Donald Trump says he "won't be watching" if players kneel during the national anthem.

Trump says he won't watch the NFL or US Soccer if players kneel during the national anthem
Trump hosts the New England Patriots at the White House.REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Trump took umbrage with US Soccer and the NFL this week after both institutions affirmed players' ability to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality. On Wednesday, US Soccer lifted a ban on kneeling during the national anthem it instituted in 2017 after US Women's National Team striker Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also put out a video apologizing for the league's previous resistance to player protests.

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Trump has taken issue with the silent protest ever since Kaepernick began the gesture back in 2016. The president also has a history of feuding with Rapinoe after she said "I'm not going to the f------ White House" prior to the 2019 World Cup.

On Saturday night, Trump tweeted, "I won't be watching much anymore!" in response to Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz's critique of US Soccer's decision to allow players to engage in silent protest during the anthem.

On his podcast, Gaetz said he was working to pen legislation that would force national team players to stand for the anthem by imposing financial repercussions on US Soccer if they engage in protests.

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Trump says he won't watch the NFL or US Soccer if players kneel during the national anthem
Megan Rapinoe kneels during the playing of the national anthem.AP Photo/John Bazemore

"I certainly think that we have the right to compel that our national team stand for the national anthem," Gaetz said. "While our anthem is playing, while you serve on the team, I think there is an obligation to respect our country."

Minutes after his response to Gaetz, Trump quoted a tweet from Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and said "it looks like the NFL is heading in that direction also, but not with me watching!"

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In his apology video, Goodell said the NFL wanted "to be part of the much-needed change in this country." Until that point, the 14-year leader of the league had not spoken out on the issue, while Kaepernick has gone un-signed since 2016.

Trump says he won't watch the NFL or US Soccer if players kneel during the national anthem
Colin Kaepernick kneels in 2016.Associated Press

As Insider's Tyler Lauletta writes, "Goodell's words are a good starting point, but the NFL's true test will come in the fall when games begin, players take part in protests, and President Donald Trump attempts to vilify them." Trump is positioned do the same with US Soccer.

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The renewed push in favor of kneeling during the national anthem comes after the death of George Floyd forced a moment of reckoning for the entire nation.

Protests have cropped up across the country since, helping the Black Lives Matter movement gain momentum to a level never before seen in the United States. Floyd's death has had ripple effects in the world of sports and has served as a moment of reflection — and regret — regarding Kaepernick's treatment in the NFL and US Soccer's handling of Rapinoe's protest.

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