Donald Trump has suggested NFL players who kneel during the US national anthem "shouldn't be in the country".
The US president was responding to the NFL's decision to fine teams whose players take to the field but fail to stand for the "Star-Spangled Banner" in protest against police brutality.
"Well I think that's good," Mr Trump told Fox News. "I don't think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still, I think it's good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn't be playing.
"Maybe you shouldn't be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem and the NFL owners did the right thing."
The move comes following months of pressure by Mr Trump to end the kneeling protests performed by players highlighting inequality and police shootings of unarmed black men.
He has accused those taking part as unpatriotic, and urged the government to ditch "massive tax breaks" for the NFL until the protests stop.
Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, announced the new policy on Wednesday
"This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem," he said in a statement. "Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.
"We believe today's decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it - and on our fans who enjoy it."
Asked if he was to thank for the ban, Mr Trump said he was responsible for creating the issue, but that "the people pushed it forward".
After months of discussions, owners believe the new policy will bring to an end kneeling protests while stopping short of requiring every player to stand.
Mr Goodell added the NFL is "dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society."
The league is currently being sued separately by Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, former San Francisco 49ers players who began the kneeling movement in 2016.
The pair allege that NFL teams have colluded to keep them unemployed, with reports last week claiming depositions had proven that several teams had scouting reports grading Kaepernick as a starter-quality player.
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