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U.S. President Donald Trump said over the weekend that he will not watch NFL games or U.S. soccer matches if players do not stand for the national anthem.
The U.S. Soccer Federation last week said it had dropped its requirement that players stand during the anthem, saying the policy was wrong and detracted from the Black Lives Matter movement.
The policy was adopted in 2017 after U.S. women’s national team member Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the anthem before a game, in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sparked the movement to call attention to racial injustice.
The president over the weekend tweeted, “I won’t be watching much anymore” in response to a report of a Republican congressman criticizing the move by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
The president added, “And it looks like the NFL is heading in that direction also, but not with me watching.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said this month that the league had made mistakes in not listening to players and denounced racism in the country amid protests over police brutality against black people.
The issue reemerged to the forefront of the national conversation last month after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
Separately, Trump - who turned 74 on Sunday – took heat from critics on Twitter who thought he looked less than agile as he walked slowly down a ramp after his graduation speech at West Point Saturday, with many noting that Trump once called Barack Obama ‘inelegant and unpresidential’ for quickly descending the steps of Air Force One.
In response to critics, Trump on Sunday tweeted the ramp at West Point was, quote, “very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery. The last thing I was going to do is “fall” for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!”