Trump renews clash with U.S. sports world

SOMERSET, N.J. (Reuters) – President Donald Trump renewed his spat with the sports world on Sunday, again calling for National Football League owners to fire players who protest during the U.S. national anthem.

In an early morning tweet, Trump suggested fans could boycott NFL games in order to pressure teams to discipline players who protest the anthem.

“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast,” Trump wrote on Sunday. “Fire or suspend!”

In a second tweet, Trump said that the “league should back” fans who are upset about the protests.

Trump is spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and held no public events on Saturday.

On Saturday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Trump’s first statements on the matter, which came during a political rally in Alabama on Friday, revealed an “unfortunate lack of respect” for the NFL and its players.

At the rally, Trump suggested any protesting football player was a “son of a bitch” and should lose his job.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now … He is fired’,” Trump said on Friday at a rally for Alabama Senate Republican candidate Luther Strange.

Trump said in Twitter messages later on Saturday that, if NFL players wanted “the privilege” of high salaries, they “should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU‘RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stirred a polarizing national debate in 2016 after refusing to stand during pre-game renditions of the “Star Spangled Banner”.

Instead, Kaepernick put one knee to the ground to protest against police violence against African-Americans. Several players have since made similar gestures of protest before games.

As commissioner, Goodell reports to NFL owners, some of whom…

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