Ref who left game after protests denies racist Facebook post

MONROE, N.J. (AP) — A referee facing criticism for refusing to officiate a high school football game after players knelt during the national anthem is facing new heat for racially insensitive Facebook posts.

Referee Ernie Lunardelli says his Facebook account was hacked, and he denies writing multiple posts saying Michelle and Barack Obama should go “back to the zoo.”

Lunardelli and his son, Anthony, left the game Friday night between Colts Neck and Monroe high schools in New Jersey after some of the Monroe players knelt.

The two previously said that while they respect the players’ right to protest, they felt such acts were disrespectful.

The trend of kneeling during the national anthem started in the NFL, where some players kneel to protest social injustices, particularly against African-Americans.

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