The National Football League will no longer allow players to kneel on the field during the national anthem, according to a series of updated guidelines released by the league on Wednesday.
“All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and Anthem,” reads the first bullet point. “A club will be fined by the league if its personnel are on the field and so not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”
Here is the NFL’s new national anthem policy: pic.twitter.com/ybjKoO6E3s
– Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 23, 2018
The new guidelines will also no longer require that players appear on the field during the performance of the anthem, and will allow anyone wishing to protest to remain in the locker room.
“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,” the league’s statement read.
The final decision was made after a vote at the league’s 32 owners at the annual spring meeting, ESPN reported.
While the move is intended to be a final resolution to the controversy which divided fans and players, there were indications Wednesday that things remained unsettled.
The National Football League Players Association quickly issued its own statement blasting the new guidelines, saying that the union was not consulted on the change and warned that it will challenge “any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”
“The NFL chose not to consult the union in the development of this now ‘policy,'” read a statement the group released on Twitter. “The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.”
“Our union will review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.
– NFLPA (@NFLPA) May 23, 2018
Though it has largely been an afterthought in recent months, the kneeling controversy, first ignited by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016, once seemed poised to split the league apart. President Trump spoke against the protesters on Twitter and during rallies, and Vice President Mike Pence staged a dramatic walkout of his own during a game in Indianapolis last October in response to the kneeling.