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United States defender Reggie Cannon said that his former MLS club, FC Dallas, wanted him to apologize to fans for calling their behavior “disgusting” after they threw objects and booed players who kneeled to protest racial inequality as the national anthem played before an August match.
Cannon, who transferred to Portuguese first division side Boavista last month, revealed Dallas management’s ask on the Crack Podcast, which is hosted by former U.S. men’s national team standouts DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu. The episode featuring Cannon’s interview was recorded a few days after the incident but was only released this week.
On August 12, before an MLS regular season game against Nashville SC in Frisco, Texas, all 22 starters on both teams agreed to kneel during the U.S. national anthem, a show of unity in response to a number of high-profile recent instances of police brutality.
Attendance at Toyota Stadium that night was limited to just a few hundred spectators because of COVID-19 restrictions, but some of those in attendance took exception to the athletes’ peaceful demonstration by hurling boos and bottles at their own players.
“It was absolutely disgusting,” Cannon said afterward. “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?”
On Beasley’s and Onyewu’s podcast, Cannon, who has 11 caps with the USMNT, said that FC Dallas brass were so unhappy about his comments that “they originally asked me to apologize.”
“They had written out a statement,” Cannon said. “I kid you not.”
Cannon described in detail death threats he said he and his family have received for criticizing the fans’ actions. “I said, ‘With all respect, I’m not apologizing. I didn’t do anything wrong,’” he said.
The threats of violence against Cannon and his wife apparently were taken seriously enough by FCD that the club gave Cannon the opportunity to sit out the rematch in Frisco four days later, he said.
Instead, in what turned out to be his penultimate game with Dallas, Cannon went the full 90 minutes in a scoreless draw. The two games with Nashville were scheduled after both teams were forced to withdraw from the MLS is Back Tournament because of COVID-19 outbreaks within their ranks. On the Crack Podcast, Cannon also revealed that he was among the Dallas players infected.
Cannon, who made 67 regular season appearances for the Hoops over parts of four seasons, said that while his wife was initially hesitant about moving overseas, she became eager to leave Texas following the August incident. It has changed Cannon’s perception of his first professional stop, too.
“Everyone at the club said, ‘We have your back 100 percent,’” Cannon said. “And when it actually gets sticky, and you actually have to go through it, I mean I’m looking around and I’m almost alone in this.”
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