FC Dallas and Nashville met on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, for the first match of the Major League Soccer 2020 season but the match was almost overshadowed by the pushback the players from both teams got for kneeling while singing the national anthem of the United States of America.
FC Dallas and Nashville were the only two teams that could not go ahead with the just concluded ‘MLS Is Back Tournament‘ because players from both sides tested positive for COVID-19. Hence, they are the only teams in the MLS that have not played any competitive match since March 12 when the league was put on hold due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
They were therefore used to flag off the restart of the regular season which would see 26 MLS team play 18 matches each. All the matches would take place in the home markets of the teams rather than in a neutral venue. And spectators are allowed into stadiums in jurisdictions where it is permitted.
Before FC Dallas took on Nashville on Wednesday at Dallas’ Toyota Stadium, the players of both teams decided to show solidarity against racial discrimination by taking a knee on the pitch while the national anthem was being recited. Immediately they went down, Dallas’ supporters began to boo the teams.
It was absolutely disgusting, FC Dallas star Reggie Cannon said
After the match which ended 1-0 in favor of the visitors Nashville, an African-American defender of FC Dallas and U.S. soccer national team, Reggie Cannon described the reaction of their supporters as disgusting and hurtful.
According to the 22-year-old U.S. soccer star, the booing was so bad that his teammate who is white, Ryan Hollingshead, had to turn to him to apologize on behalf of the supporters.
“The first thing he said to me after we got up from the knee, he said I’m sorry”, Reggie Cannon said.
“I think it was disgusting. I think it was absolutely disgusting. 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? You can’t even have support from your own fans in your own stadium. It’s baffling to me.
“As a team, we try to give the best possible product on the field and these last six months have been absolute hell for us. Absolute hell.
“We had someone chanting the USA, but they don’t understand what kneeling means. They don’t understand why we’re kneeling. They can’t see the reason. They think we’re the ignorant ones. It’s incredibly frustrating. I’m sorry to have this tone, but you have to call it for what it is.
“I even know when we decided to kneel I knew it was going to happen. That should tell you something, I knew we were going to have some negative pushback from having a unified response over what’s going on. That’s the problem, that’s a problem.
“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.”
Since the brutal murder of an African-American, George Floyd by a white police officer, there has been mass agitation against racial discrimination and police brutality across the world especially in the U.S.
The U.S. soccer association and other relevant bodies have made it legal for players to take a knee if they choose to while reciting the U.S. national anthem. Though the practice is against the desires of President Donald Trump, it has become almost a norm among all sports in the U.S.