Donald Trump sparks debate for appearing to forget words to national anthem 'Star-Spangled banner'
Donald Trump has sparked debate for appearing to struggle with the words to the US national anthem at an American football match.
Footage from the televised National Championship game between Alabama and Georgia in Atlanta shows the US President mouthing the words to parts of the Star Spangled Banner.
Critics on social media rounded on the US head of state, saying it looked as though he forgot the lyrics to some segments.
The national anthem has become a point of fierce debate after the US President repeatedly criticised NFL players for kneeling during the song in protest at the treatment of black Americans.
Hours before the game, Mr Trump again criticised athletes for choosing not to stand.
“There’s plenty of space for people to express their views and to protest, but we love our flag and we love our anthem and we want to keep it that way,” he told the annual gathering of the Farm Bureau in Nashville.
Mr Trump stood on the pitch for the anthem on Monday night and put his hand on his heart as he sang. He cannot be heard in TV footage but appears to falter in the middle sections of the song, before finishing with greater enthusiasm and grinning at the camera.
Writer Tony Posnanski said on Twitter it appeared as if the President "just kept repeating 'applesauce' during the National Anthem".
Colorado resident Neal Rogers tweeted, "Trump spent months railing against black NFL players peacefully demonstrating during our national anthem, only for it to be shown that he doesn’t even know the words to our national anthem… that really just ties it all up neatly with bow, doesn’t it?"
The President received a mixed response as he walked onto the field before the game, with both cheers and boos ringing out across the stadium.
Football fans grew disgruntled before the head-to-head started, after being locked out of the stadium in the rain as the US President arrived.
Footage from outside the venue showed hundreds of fans waiting in the downpour, with a number booing Mr Trump's motorcade as it drives past.
Meanwhile, protesters reportedly projected the words "F*** Trump" on the front of the stadium.
One Alabama player, identified as Bo Scarbrough, was also heard yelling 'F**** Trump' before the game.
The Atlanta branch of the NAACP on Monday encouraged fans to wear white and wave white towels — a move intended to mock conservatives who call liberals “snowflakes.”
Last year, Mr Trump described Atlanta as “falling apart” and “crime infested” after Congressman John Lewis refused to attend his inauguration.
After standing for the national anthem in the field, Mr Trump watched the first half of the game from a suite before leaving.
Independent News Service