Football Refs Leave Game As Players Kneel During National Anthem Protest, Tell Athletes: ‘Go Somewhere Else.’

The national anthem protests are apparently having an effect upon refs. News about two referees who left the field on Friday evening upon witnessing football players kneeling during the national anthem is going viral. According to NJ.com, two high school football referees who were scheduled to officiate a game between Monroe High School in Middlesex County against the visiting Colts Neck abruptly left the game upon witnessing Monroe football players kneeling.

The refs were father and son: 54-year-old Ernie Lunardelli and 27-year-old Anthony Lunardelli. Both referees stood during the national anthem, but walked off the field when they saw the Monroe players kneeling, necessitating their ref spots to be filled by junior cadet refs at the game. There was a five-person referee team scheduled to officiate prior to the refs leaving the game.

Ernie said that he was not in favor of people disrespecting the flag, the U.S., or the armed forces. Lunardelli claimed that the issues the football players were protesting had nothing to do with the national anthem, and that he was against the kneeling protest, so he decided to protest the protest by walking out. Ernie allegedly gave a warning to the Greater Middlesex Conference official assigner that the ref would leave the game if any football players knelt during the national anthem.

Lunardelli claimed he would protest anyone he felt was disrespecting the flag, be it an 80-year-old man or a baby of any race. As a result of walking off the field, Lunardelli and his son were taken off the schedule for Saturday’s game. Lunardelli also claims that the refs that replaced him and his son aren’t official because those who replaced them weren’t officially trained. He claimed that the high school children didn’t know why they were kneeling and that if they weren’t happy in the U.S., they should leave the country.

After the refs left the field, Colts Neck beat Monroe, 18-13. Lunardelli lashed out, saying he would not be run out of town or blackballed as a result of walking out before the game began. He stated he has an attorney lined up.

“If you’re not happy with being in America, go somewhere else. It’s that simple.”

[Featured Image by Patrick Semansky/AP Images]