On Tuesday, Major League Soccer reiterated its longstanding position supporting players’ right to peacefully protest during national anthems before games. As protests against racism, social injustice and police brutality continue across the country and the world, athletes have been vocal on social media, traditional media and in the streets.
It begs the question if we'll see another uptick in peaceful protests on the field of play, such as kneeling during the national anthem like former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did in 2016. FC Dallas rising star Reggie Cannon didn't rule out kneeling or another form of peaceful protest once MLS returns.
“I don’t know," Cannon told reporters on a video conference call. "It may happen, it may not."
Kaepernick divided opinion at the time and it ultimately cost him his job, as he hasn't been in the NFL since that season. US women's national team star Megan Rapinoe was another high profile name to join in on the kneeling.
"I can firmly say Kaepernick was right," Cannon said. "Peaceful protests happened, but they weren’t accepted. … Now, you get people speaking out against violent protests. We had a peaceful protest, we’ve been peacefully protesting. It didn’t work. Now that people are being forced to listen, the message is getting out.”
Cannon has been outspoken since the protests began following George Floyd's death by police officers in Minnesota, which was captured on video, to spark widespread protests. He's used his platform on social media to speak out and amplify fellow Black athletes speaking out over racism, social injustice and police brutality.
“Having that power of social media, I’ve been using that a lot," Cannon said. "It helps inspire different conversations to be had. After I reposted that video of George Floyd, as uncomfortable as it was, sparked a conversation between me and Ryan [Hollingshead]. He reached out to ask what he could do to help. That’s important, it gives you a sense of unity.”
Cannon feels that FC Dallas are behind him.
He's been in contact with those at the club, including head coach Luchi Gonzalez. Last week, Gonzalez called Cannon to listen and learn of his experiences, then arranged a virtual meeting for his players, giving Cannon and his fellow Black teammates the opportunity to tell their stories and share their perspective.
“It’s not just us fighting the battle in this case, it’s been different," Cannon said. "It’s been a crazy couple of weeks but it’s a time for change.”