Fans booed as professional soccer players on FC Dallas and Nashville SC kneeled for the national anthem before their game in Frisco, Texas, on Wednesday.
The players had initially requested that the anthem not be played before the game. Officials denied the request, so the players knelt while the anthem played to protest racial injustice. The fans apparently disapproved, booing the social justice demonstration. Nashville SC eventually won the game 1-0.
Dallas defender Reggie Cannon reacted to the crowd in a press conference after the game, saying that the crowd’s booing was “absolutely disgusting.”
“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’ve discussed with every other team, and the league, what we’re gonna do. And we got fans booing us in our own stadium. How disgraceful is that?” Cannon said. “Honestly, it, for lack of a better word, pissed me off. We discussed that prior to what we were doing. We discussed it with Nashville. Everyone from Nashville was on board. Everyone across the league was on board [with what we were gonna] do.”
“We asked for no anthem because we don’t feel it was right for the anthem to be played at this moment. They ignored our wishes. So we were gonna kneel regardless if the anthem was played or not. Unfortunately, it was played during these times where we asked for an anthem not to be played, and it pisses me off that you can’t even have support from your own fans in your own stadium,” Cannon continued.
Neither the Dallas nor Nashville team has played a game since the soccer season was suspended on March 12 because of the pandemic, according to ESPN. Both teams were also barred from playing in an “MLS is Back” tournament in Florida earlier in August because of cases of the coronavirus that popped up among players on both teams.
“It’s baffling to me. 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. Absolute hell. Because we have to watch other people play soccer and we’re just sitting at home, unfortunately, contracting COVID from the unfortunate situations that we were put in,” Cannon said.
Professional athletes and sports organizations have stepped up efforts to mix in social justice activism with sporting events since the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day, which sparked demonstrations across the United States over police brutality and racial inequality.
The NBA has painted social justice messages such as “Black Lives Matter” on the courts of Walt Disney World arenas where the league is playing out the rest of its season amid the pandemic. Players have also been allowed to put a variety of approved social justice messages on their jerseys in place of their last names.
Floyd, a black man, died in police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Video of the arrest shows that Floyd resisted officers and complained about not being able to breathe before police held him on the ground.