President Trump on Wednesday blasted the NFL, accusing the league of “total disrespect for our great country” following a meeting of team owners that did not adopt a requirement for players to stand during the national anthem.
Trump sparked a national controversy over the issue last month when he called on NFL owners to fire players who take a knee during the anthem, and teams have been wrestling with the issue every Sunday since. The take-a-knee action began as an attempt to call attention to racial issues, but Trump and others have turned it into an act against the flag and patriotism.
Following a series of meetings in New York on Tuesday, which included a four-hour gathering with players, team owners emerged without adopting a requirement that players stand. Several owners said they do not expect that to change by the time they conclude their meetings Wednesday.
“The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!” Trump said in his Wednesday tweet, which was part of a barrage on a range of issues, including tax cuts and the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
The NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem. Total disrespect for our great country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017
Trump had previously said that he thinks NFL owners are “afraid of their players,” a situation he called “disgraceful” during an interview late last month with “Fox & Friends.”
For weeks, the president has urged the league to adopt and enforce a rule that requires players to stand during the anthem. Under current rules, players are encouraged to stand but there are no penalties for those who do not.
Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, started the form of protest last year as a means to draw attention to police killings of unarmed black people and oppression of minorities.
Trump has argued that the real issue is respect for the American flag.