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Trump Claims that NFL Ratings Will Continue to Fall if Protests Don’t End

President Trump said the NFL’s problems won’t end if the league keeps allowing its players to protest the national anthem, adding that the league should force players to stand during the anthem.

Before leaving on Wednesday for a tax reform rally in Indiana, Trump told a group of reporters outside the White House that the NFL has to change or its business will never be the same again.

“The NFL is in a very bad box. You cannot have people disrespecting our national anthem, our flag, our country,” Trump said.

“That’s what they’re doing, and in my opinion the NFL has to change, or you know what’s going to happen, their business is going to go to hell,” he said.

Trump issued a stern rebuke of anthem protesters on Tuesday through Twitter, saying the NFL will continue to see a decline in ratings as long as it lets players kneel during the anthem.

“Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected!” Trump said.

During a press conference on Tuesday with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the White House Rose Garden, Trump was asked if was too preoccupied with the NFL to pay attention to the crisis in Puerto Rico.

“Well, I wasn’t preoccupied with the NFL. I was ashamed of what was taking place, because to me that was a very important moment,” Trump said.

Trump denounced NFL protesters on Friday during a rally in Alabama and has restated his position on several occasions.

“I don’t think you can disrespect our country, our flag, our national anthem. To me, the NFL situation is a very important situation,” Trump said. “I’ve heard that before about was I preoccupied. Not at all. Not at all. I have plenty of time on my hands. All I do is work.”

Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday found that 58 percent of voters believe that “professional athletes should be required to stand during the national anthem at sporting events.”