MLS players kneeling for the national anthem were met with “a smattering of boos” from fans during a game between FC Dallas and Nashville SC on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
After the game, Reggie Cannon, a Dallas defender, did not hold back his anger with the fans who decided to boo.
"I think it was disgusting. I think it was absolutely disgusting," Cannon said after the game. "You 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 from your own fans in your own stadium. It’s baffling to me."
MLS has allowed some fans to return to stadiums to watch games, based on local city ordinances. According to the AP, Frisco, TX allowed just over 5,000 fans to watch, but fewer than that showed up to the game.
Cannon said the boos hurt even more because it was the first time FC Dallas had the opportunity to play since March. They withdrew from MLS’s Return to Play tournament in Florida after 10 players tested positive for COVID-19.
"As a team, we try to give the best possible product on that field, and these last six months have been absolute hell for us," Cannon said. "Absolute hell, because we had to watch other people play soccer, and we’re just sitting at home, unfortunately, contracting COVID… And the opportunity presented itself to play tonight and unfortunately we’re mad-- and upset not to get the win-- but I was pissed. Everyone around me was pissed.
"Ryan Hollingshead, the first thing he said to me after we got up from the knee he said 'I'm sorry.' I’m sorry for our fans because we had someone chanting 'USA' when they don’t understand what keeling means, they don’t understand why we’re kneeling. They can’t see the reason, they just think we’re the ignorant ones and 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, that I knew we were going to have some negative pushback from having a unified response over what’s going on. That’s the problem."
The National Anthem was not played in MLS’s Return to Play tournament, because there were no fans in the stands, however MLS says all players still took a knee in solidarity before kicking off each game. MLS has also stated they will continue to allow players to kneel during the anthem if they choose.
According to MLS, Cannon said the unified kneeling will continue from his team whether fans like it or not.
"It hurts me because I love our fans. I love this club and I want to see the support that the league has given us, that everyone has given us from our fans," Cannon said. "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. 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."
Players, coaches and even referees across nearly every sport across the globe have come together with some display against racial inequality, whether it be kneeling, observing a moment of silence, or wearing jerseys with special messaging.
Protests and displays of solidarity began in earnest after video captured police killing George Floyd while bringing him into custody.