“I think it was disgusting. I think it was absolutely disgusting. You got fans booing you for people taking a stand for what they believe in when 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 p----- me off. …
“You can’t even have support from your own fans in your own stadium. It’s baffling to me.”
In a joint statement Thursday evening, Dallas FC owners Clark and Dan Hunt said that Cannon was subjected to “violent threats” for his protest and subsequent comments.
“We want to be clear: We love and support Reggie Cannon,” the Hunts said in their statement. “The racist comments and death threats he has received are repulsive and unacceptable.
“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.
“We will continue to work together — with our players, our coaches and our fans — against racism,” the Hunts continued, “and in the cause of equality for all.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber struck a similar note Thursday evening, saying in a statement, “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 or 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 pregame ceremony.”
Garber added that MLS “supports players and staff who protest peacefully on behalf of equality and social justice.”
With MLS restarting the season in local markets and crowd-size regulations varying from place to place, just over 5,000 fans were allowed to attend the match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Tex., and 3,000 were present for Dallas’s 1-0 loss.
According to the Dallas Morning News, one fan threw a water bottle at players as they were demonstrating, and the fan was reportedly escorted out.
Cannon said the team had told its opponent and the league that players planned to kneel, as many athletes have since the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others prompted protests across the country. He went on to say that he had asked that the anthem, which was not played during the recent MLS Is Back tournament in Florida, not be played. However, Garber said last week that it would be played before games when fans were in attendance.
In a statement issued before those of Garber and the Hunts, FC Dallas said it “supports our players and fans in their right to express themselves in a peaceful manner."
“While we understand the decision to stand or kneel for the National Anthem is a polarizing issue,” the team said, “we hope that FC Dallas can be a leader in helping our community accept diverse viewpoints in a respectful way as we all work together in the ongoing fight for racial equality.
“I’m sorry for our fans because we had someone chanting ‘U-S-A,’ but they don’t understand what kneeling means,” said Cannon, a 22-year-old who is also a member of the U.S. men’s national team. “They don’t understand why we’re kneeling, and they can’t see the reason. They just think we’re the ignorant ones. It’s incredibly frustrating. I’m sorry to have this tone, but you have to call it for what it is.
“I even knew when we decided to kneel, I knew it was going to happen. That should tell you something. I knew we were going to have some negative pushback from having a unified response over what’s going on. That’s the problem. That’s a problem, and it hurts me because I love our fans.”
MLS has declared it supports players’ right to peacefully protest during the anthem, saying it “stands by the ideals of freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest that are the hallmarks of the United States and Canada.”
“I love the people that came out tonight, but as soon as I heard that boo I tried to play on and I knew what to expect,” Cannon said Wednesday. “We’ll take it one day at a time, and again we’re unified in this response and everyone stands together — black, white, orange — everyone stands together in this.”