Monroe Township, New Jersey – Two high school football referees walked off the field in protest Friday night after witnessing players taking a knee during the national anthem before the team’s game.
Ernie Lunardelli and his son Anthony Lunardelli were the two officials who stood for the national anthem and then left the field after witnessing the players kneeling, according to NJ.com.
The game was between Monroe High School and Colts Neck.
“I’m not in favor of anyone disrespecting our country, our flag, the armed forces,” Ernie Lunardelli told NJ Advance Media. “What they’re protesting has nothing to do with the national anthem and I’m against it, so I decided to protest for them kneeling and that’s what I did.”
Ernie Lunardelli informed the officials assigner for the Greater Middlesex Conference weeks ago that he would walk off the field if any players knelt for the anthem before his games.
“Whoever is disrespecting that flag and the national anthem, that’s who I have a problem with,” Ernie Lunardelli said.
“That’s my protest. I don’t care if it’s a baby, if it’s an 80-year-old man, anybody. I don’t care. Any race, color, I don’t care who it is. It’s not the way I was brought up and it pisses me off that people are doing that.”
Ernie Lunardelli said that he and his son were taken off a Saturday game due to their protests, according to NJ.com.
The two officials were replaced by junior cadet officials at the game, Ernie Lunardelli said.
Ernie Lundardelli also claimed that the game should not be official. The two cadets were taken from the chain gang crew and did not have proper certification or training.
“That game should not count now because they did not have the right personnel on the field,” Ernie Lunardelli said.
“These kids weren’t officially carded and trained, so they’re putting the kids in jeopardy, I’m not.”