Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) — NFL team owners will consider requiring football players to stand for the U.S. national anthem after President Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested using tax laws to penalize the league for players who kneel in protest of racial injustice.
Trump, a Republican, escalated his feud with the National Football League in a Twitter post asking if the league should get tax breaks while some athletes kneel in protest when the “Star-Spangled Banner” is played at the start of each game.
“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The world’s top-grossing sports league gave up its tax-free status two years ago. Its owners are preparing to address the anthem issue at their fall meeting in New York Oct. 17-18, NFL chief spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday.
“Everyone at this point is frustrated by the situation,” Lockhart said. “The commissioner and the owners do want the players to stand. We think it is an important part of the game.”
The protests, in a league where African-Americans make up the majority of players, have continued through the season, with some players taking a knee when the anthem is played and others standing arm-in-arm in solidarity.
Current policy calls for players to stand for the anthem and face the flag, but no player has been disciplined for a protest, Lockhart said.
“We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to team owners.
The White House supported the idea of asking players to stand, said spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
“We are glad to see the NFL taking positive steps in that direction,” she said at a news briefing.
Asked to explain Trump’s comment on the NFL and taxes, Sanders said, “The federal tax law doesn’t apply here, but certainly we know that they receive tax subsidies on a variety of different levels.”