Trump renews spat with US sports stars

This article is more than 12 months old

SOMERSET, NEW JERSEY US President Donald Trump renewed his spat with the sports world yesterday, again calling for National Football League (NFL) owners to fire players who protest during the US national anthem.

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

"If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast," Mr Trump wrote on Sunday.

"Fire or suspend!"

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

On Saturday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Mr 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 b****" and should lose his job.

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

National Basketball Association (NBA) players also struck back against comments by the president.

In an early morning Twitter message on Saturday, the president rescinded a White House invitation to Stephen Curry, who had said he would "vote" against the planned visit by the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

"Going to the White House is considered a great honour for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!" Mr Trump tweeted.

Curry told a news conference: "It's beneath the leader of a country to go that route. "It's not what leaders do."

LeBron James came to Curry's defence, disputing Trump's assertion that visiting the White House was an honour.

"Going to White House was a great honour until you showed up!" James said on Twitter. - REUTERS

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