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MLS and the owners of FC Dallas are defending Reggie Cannon after he faced backlash and threats on social media when he called fans “disgusting” for booing players who took a knee during the national anthem.
Officials and players from FC Dallas and Nashville SC took a knee during the anthem in the league’s first match with fans in the stands since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. The game was played in Frisco, Texas, on Wednesday night with nearly 3,000 in attendance.
Players booed, threatened after taking a knee
Some fans booed them during the anthem and threw objects onto the field. Cannon, who is Black, said it was “absolutely disgusting” that fans would boo their own team for “taking a stand for what they believe in.”
“Millions of other people support this cause and we discussed with every other team and the league what we’re going to do and we’ve got fans booing us in our own stadium,” Cannon said after the match. “How disgraceful is that? Honestly, for lack of a better word, it pissed me off.
“You can’t even have support form your own fans in your own stadium,” Cannon added. “It’s baffling to me.”
It ignited racist and threatening comments on social media aimed at Cannon, a U.S. national team defender.
FC Dallas: Comments ‘repulsive and unacceptable’
FC Dallas owners Clark and Dan Hunt released a statement late Thursday voicing support for Cannon and calling the racist comments and death threats “repulsive and unacceptable.”
The statement continued:
“There is no place in our sport, or in our country for that matter, for the kind of horrific vitriol Reggie has had to endure today. Hateful or violent threats are never warranted — especially when they are directed toward a member of our FC Dallas family.”
The organization had released a statement earlier Thursday saying it supports “players and fans in their right to express themselves in a peaceful manner.”
There were no fans at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, Florida, over the past month due to the pandemic. And the anthem was not played, either. Cannon said after Wednesday’s game that players requested it not be played before the match but they “ignored our wishes.”
Players throughout the sports world have voiced their opinion that the anthem doesn’t belong in sports in the first place. Leagues are devoting seasons to Black Lives Matter and quests for racial justice after the death of George Floyd in May.
MLS also condemns threats
MLS commissioner Don Garber released a statement on behalf of the league condemning the “appalling” comments aimed toward Cannon. He also reiterated that the league supports peaceful protests for equality and social justice.
The statement reads, in part:
“Some of the comments made on social media following the match were appalling. We want to be very clear that MLS will not tolerate any abuse of threats to any individual player or team who decides to exercise their right to peaceful protest during the playing of the national anthem or any other pre-game ceremony.”
Dallas FC and Nashville SC will meet again in Frisco on Sunday. Neither team played in the MLS is Back tournament because COVID-19 outbreaks within their squads forced them to withdraw.
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