The American football league announced Wednesday that it would impose fines on teams should their players choose to kneel in protest during the national anthem, which has become a divisive issue.
National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that the 32 team owners agreed on six rules pertaining to the national anthem played before each game.
"All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem," the statement said, adding personnel who choose not to stand may stay in the locker room until after the anthem is performed.
"A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem," it said.
Commissioner Goodell will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand during the anthem and show respect for the American flag, according to the statement.
During the 2016 season, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest social inequality, racism, and police brutality against minorities.
He was soon joined by several teammates and other players that year, and by hundreds across the league in 2017.
President Donald Trump harshly criticized players kneeling last year via Twitter, writing in September: "Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!"
"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!" he wrote in October.
The NFL Players Association said in a statement on Wednesday that it had not been consulted about the league's new policy.
"NFL players have shown their patriotism [...] through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about," the statement said.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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