Major League Soccer backs players booed for kneeling during pre-game national anthem

Major League Soccer condemned the jeers FC Dallas and Nashville SC players received when they knelt in protest of racial injustice during the pre-game national anthem.

Agence France-Presse August 14, 2020 11:11:00 IST
Major League Soccer backs players booed for kneeling during pre-game national anthem

Major League Soccer on Thursday condemned the jeers FC Dallas and Nashville SC players received when they knelt in protest of racial injustice during the pre-game national anthem.

FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon – who is black – called the jeers at his team's home ground "absolutely disgusting," comments that then drew a raft of racial abuse on social media.

MLS weighed in on Thursday, as did FC Dallas chairman Clark Hunt and president Dan Hunt.

"During the playing of the National Anthem at last night's match between FC Dallas and Nashville SC, the players from both clubs and match referees chose to kneel," MLS said in a statement. "As we have stated consistently over many years, Major League Soccer supports players and staff who protest peacefully on behalf of equality and social justice.

"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 pre-game ceremony."

Clark and Dan Hunt said they "love and support" Cannon.

"The racist comments and death threats he has received are repulsive and unacceptable," the duo said. "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 (Thursday).

"Hateful or violent threats are never warranted – especially when they are directed toward a member of our FC Dallas family."

Nashville's 1-0 away win over Dallas marked MLS's return to clubs' home markets after the MLS is Back tournament that relaunched a season halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Dallas and Nashville had missed that event, forced to withdraw after multiple positive COVID-19 tests among players and staff.

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