Soccer For All

FC Dallas, Nashville back Reggie Cannon after social media vitriol: "It's appalling"

Reggie Cannon - FC Dallas - Hands on hips

After teammate Reggie Cannon was subjected to racist attacks and death threats for his impassioned comments following FC Dallas' match against Nashville SC on Wednesday, Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer had a simple message.

His teammates, and the entire organization, have Cannon's back.

"My reaction is that it's just appalling. I'm appalled that's happened to Reggie," Maurer told reporters on a Friday conference call. "I'm angry that's happened to my teammate and someone I feel close with. It's just completely unacceptable for it to get to a point like that over a peaceful protest and demonstration of trying to call attention to human rights and equality. It's just completely ridiculous.

"All I can speak on is these specific actions and just say that these extreme responses to just, again, just trying to call attention to equality and systematic racism and violence against Black people and the history of it and the continued nature of it in current times, it's just appalling that Reggie has to experience this backlash. Why is it even falling so much on Reggie? We were all with Reggie, the entire team. I haven't received any death threats. To me, it's appalling that he's being singled out like that. We were all kneeling together as a team, we made the decision as a team. It's just completely unacceptable."

Cannon's initial comments came in his postgame press conference following Dallas' 1-0 defeat to Nashville — both teams' first game back in 2020 after they had to withdraw from the MLS is Back Tournament due to positive COVID-19 test results. All players from both teams took a knee during the national anthem prior to kickoff in a demonstration of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, with some fans in attendance responding by booing, chanting "USA" and throwing objects onto the field, and more directing vitriol at Cannon on social media following the match.

"I think it was disgusting. I think it was absolutely disgusting," Cannon said after the game

FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez echoed Maurer's sentiment that the organization supports Cannon and all players across the league who want to express their support for the ongoing movement. Gonzalez said that his issue wasn't necessarily with the booing, which is technically legal even if he may disagree with it, but that throwing objects onto the field crosses the line and should be met with discipline.

"I'll say several things: I'm proud of our club and having a position that's very clear that's against social injustice and racism," Gonzalez said. "Obviously there's different ways to express that. There were decisions of players, staff, fans, people about how they continue to demonstrate that. We're all different. But where I'm very confident that we're not different is in that core belief and that value of being against racism and social injustice. I'm very proud of the team, I'm very proud of the staff and the club, to be very clear about that and united and together in that way.

"How that's expressed is a very personal thing. You saw all the players from both teams and members of the staff show their demonstration," he added. "And there was a reaction by some fans, not the majority, but some. And that's their right to boo. There's nothing illegal about that. There can be an emotion and disappointment as a coach or as a player about maybe not getting that support, but that's their right. Now, throwing something on the field or an object, those are things that are against the code of conduct that was violated, and that's not acceptable. For me there should always be consequences [for that]."

Asked about what transpired in his conference call on Friday, Nashville coach Gary Smith said that the organization also supports the demonstrations of solidarity. All of Nashville's players also took a knee on Wednesday with the Dallas players.

"What I will say is that myself, the organization, the senior staff and ownership, we're very supportive of our players and of course the staff at the game in their decisions on how they want to express themselves," Smith said. "I do think it's everybody's right to have that ability. Whoever was shouting in the crowd, however many people that pertained to, they're entitled to opinion as well, but I think we also have to keep in mind, and certainly I'd like to keep it clear: We're very much supportive of the equality and the social justice that this process is fighting for."