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USMNT right back Reggie Cannon is having a difficult time explaining the situation in the United States to his European teammates right now. The former FC Dallas star told The Guardian his views on his home country have shifted since he joined Boavista in Portugal last summer and watches historic events play out from afar.
Cannon left Dallas on a reported $3.25 million transfer one month after he faced backlash and threats when he called fans "disgusting" for booing players who took a knee during the national anthem. He told The Guardian his safety was compromised.
Cannon: My safety in America was compromised
Cannon, a 22-year-old Black man, called FC Dallas fans "disgusting" in August after they booed and threw objects on to the pitch when players took a knee for the national anthem. It was the league's first match with fans in the stands since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
His comments ignited racist and threatening comments on social media toward Cannon and his wife. Publicly, the FC Dallas owners voiced support for Cannon and called the racist comments "repulsive and unacceptable." MLS also condemned the threats.
Cannon said on the Crack Podcast days after the match that FC Dallas wanted him to apologize for the behavior. He said the team had written a statement for him to use, but he refused to do so. The defender reiterated that to The Guardian and added that his safety was compromised while in the U.S.
“That whole situation with Dallas was handled terribly and there were repercussions of it, but my career wasn’t affected by that and I am able to get to the next level in good time," he said. "Unfortunately, my safety in America was compromised and that’s the risk you take with pointing out injustices because people are going to disagree.
"Threatening to kill your family, threatening to show up at your house, threatening to do vulgar things to you, that I can’t say. It is, unfortunately, part of the society that America is today, especially when Trump was in charge. Now we have moved past that.”
Cannon was born in Chicago, Illinois, and came up through the FC Dallas youth system before playing at UCLA. He's been in the national team system since 2015.
Cannon: Describing U.S. is like medieval times
In the months since leaving in September he has missed the election of President Joe Biden, the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol grounds and the unprecedented second impeachment trial of a U.S. president, Donald Trump.
The Guardian asked him if his views of his native country have changed.
"One hundred million percent,” Cannon said. "Looking at the insurrection, Texas freezing over right now … explaining to my teammates what is going on in the country is baffling to me. Explaining the America I have lived in to those who don’t live in America, it feels like I am describing medieval times.”
Cannon told The Guardian he does hope things change in the new administration.
"I don't think one man can fix the damage done," he said. "I am talking about racial tension in this country (USA), which is a huge issue which people refuse to admit."
Cannon's grandfather a highly regarded scientist
Climate change is also a serious, but polarizing, issue and Cannon knows a lot about it. His grandfather, Warren. M. Washington, is a highly regarded scientist in the field and was one of 10 researchers awarded the National medal of Science by Barack Obama in 2010.
"Even now, where people still reject climate change in America," Cannon said, "I look at the work my grandfather has done to scientifically prove a lot of that exists and it’s a threat that is coming — it’s really incredible to see the groundbreaking work he has done, especially as an African American in his time."
Cannon noted that his grandfather broke boundaries as a Black man in science and that motivation is why "people can't push me down," he said, "because he had to go through it all to get to the level he is."
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