Trump urges suspension of NFL player over national anthem protest
US president attacks Oakland Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch for not standing for anthem
Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders: President Trump tweeted that he had shown “Great disrespect!” Photograph: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
The Raiders played the New England Patriots in Mexico City on Sunday and stood for the Mexican national anthem. Lynch remained standing for the opening of the Star-Spangled Banner before sitting down.
“Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem,” tweeted Trump on Monday morning. “Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.”
The anthem protest movement was started last season by Colin Kaepernick to highlight racial injustice in the United States. Lynch came out of retirement this season and is yet to stand for the anthem, although he has not said why. However, last month he wore a T-shirt that read “Everybody vs Trump”. Trump prompted large numbers of players to protest earlier this season after saying any player who kneels for the anthem should be fired. Only a small number of players are still kneeling during the anthem – apart from Lynch, four other players knelt during the Star-Spangled Banner on Sunday.
No rule on anthem
It is highly unlikely that the NFL would – or even could – suspend Lynch as there is no rule forcing players to stand for the anthem. TV ratings are, however, down this season, although the same is true for sports across the US, including Nascar. Stadium attendances have held steady, although the NFL takes into account season tickets in attendance figures, even if fans do not show up.
Trump’s tweet is likely to play well with his base – an ESPN survey showed the majority of white Americans oppose the protests. The same survey showed that most African-Americans approve.
The president was involved in another sports story on Sunday. After intervening to secure the release of three UCLA basketball players held for shoplifting in China, Trump said he wished he had left them in jail. He was apparently incensed after one of the players’ fathers questioned how big a part Trump had played in their release. All three players had thanked Trump for his help.