NFL teams are "afraid of their players" and so can't respond to the recent protests by American football players, Donald Trump has said.
Owners are "in a situation where [they] want to do something," Mr Trump told Fox News. But they are "afraid of their players, if you want to know the truth", he said.
The protests were begun by Colin Kaepernick, who started refusing to stand as a protest against police brutality and racism when he played for the San Francisco 49ers. Many of the players who have taken part in the protest are black.
Mr Trump's latest provocative comments come amid the president's increasing anger towards NFL players who take part in the "Take A Knee" protest and refuse to stand for the US national anthem. He suggested that his repeated statements about those protests were not a distraction but were about a real issue facing the country.
He claimed that he is friends with team owners and has spoken to a number of them in recent days, and that they had described themselves as being "in a box". "“They’ve got to be tough, and they’ve got to be smart," he said.
He also repeated his previous comments about the falling ratings in the NFL. He claimed that attendance is falling at games and that many seats are being left empty – which Fox hosts agreed with, and said was being intentionally hidden from the cameras at games.
The interview was recorded just before Mr Trump took to the stage in Indianapolis to launch his new tax plan. It was broadcast on Fox & Friends early on Thursday morning.
The controversy flared up on Friday when the president said that authorities should respond to the protests by saying "Get that son of a bitch off the field". He has tweeted and commented on the issue every day since, in increasingly aggressive terms.
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