The MLS Players Union has responded to U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial statements regarding protests during NFL games over the past 13 months, calling the remarks "jarring and disappointing."
Trump at a rally Friday called on NFL team owners to fire any "son of a bitch" who "disrespects our flag" by kneeling during the national anthem. He also asked for harder hitting in the league, saying "they're ruining the game" by implementing new rules for player safety.
The MLS Players Union chimed in Monday, releasing a statement of support of all professional athletes in North America.
"All players have every right to exercise their Constitutional rights and we will do everything in our power to defend those rights..." pic.twitter.com/piPlCfdi2R — MLS Players Union (@MLSPlayersUnion) September 25, 2017
"To hear the President of the United States single out certain professional athletes and call for their termination of employment was jarring and disappointing, as was his disregard for player health and safety," the statement read.
"Like NFL players, and players across the North American sports landscape, MLS players spend countless hours off the field doing charitable work that makes a significant impact in the communities in which they play.
"All players have every right to exercise their Constitutional rights and we will do everything in our power to defend those rights when they are challenged. It is our deepest hope that the solidarity exhibited on a daily basis by professional athletes throughout North America can serve to encourage a more tolerant and less divisive society."
If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
The defiance against Trump on Sunday included NFL players locking arms, refusing to stand for the national anthem and not coming out to the field for the pregame tradition as a protest for racial and social injustice.
In the NWSL, the top women's professional soccer league in North America, U.S. national team players Becky Sauerbrunn, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe refused to enter the pitch for the anthem ahead of a match Sunday.