United States national team and FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon blasted some FCD fans after they booed and threw objects at their own players for protesting police brutality and systemic racism by taking a knee as the national anthem played before Wednesday’s Major League Soccer match against Nashville SC.
Nearly 3,000 spectators attended the game in Frisco, Texas, making MLS the first major North American sports league to welcome fans back into its stadiums since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, and since the May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody sparked outrage and protests around the world.
Athletes from MLS, the National Women’s Soccer League, Major League Baseball, the NBA and top European soccer leagues have all made public displays of support for the Black Lives Matter movement since those leagues returned, all of them without fans in attendance because of the ongoing health crisis. But with supporters in the seats for Wednesday’s match, some of those fans took vocal exception to the display. Cannon, who is Black, took exception to them.
“I think it was absolutely disgusting,” Cannon said after the game, which was won 1-0 by Nashville. “You’ve got fans booing you for people 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. 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.”
MLS said in June that it would back any player who decided to take a knee during the national anthems of the United States and/or Canada.
“Major League Soccer stands by the ideals of freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest that are the hallmarks of the United States and Canada,” the league said in a statement then. “If players or staff decide to stand, kneel or otherwise exercise their right to peaceful protest during the playing of the National Anthems before league games, we support them.”
But Wednesday’s game marked the first time that an anthem was heard before a league match since March; with no fans allowed at the recently concluded MLS is Back Tournament in Florida, anthems were not played. Cannon said that players requested that the U.S. anthem not be played on Wednesday, either. “They ignored our wishes,” he said. “We were going to kneel regardless.”
FCD addressed the matter with a statement released Thursday afternoon:
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