US Soccer's Reggie Cannon Discusses Death Threats After Kneeling During Anthem

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2021

United States defender Reggie Cannon (2) drives the ball during an international friendly soccer match between United States and Costa Rica in Carson, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. The U.S. won 1-0. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

United States men's national team defender Reggie Cannon detailed the abuse he received after criticizing fans who booed players for kneeling during the national anthem last August.

In an interview with Will Unwin of the Guardian, Cannon said he received death threats and that they aren't uncommon for American athletes who are vocal in advocating for social justice:

"That whole situation with Dallas was handled terribly and there were repercussions of it, but my career wasn't affected by that and I am able to get to the next level in good time. Unfortunately, my safety in America was compromised and that's the risk you take with pointing out injustices because people are going to disagree. Threatening to kill your family, threatening to show up at your house, threatening to do vulgar things to you, that I can't say. It is, unfortunately, part of the society that America is today, especially when Trump was in charge. Now we have moved past that."

Cannon moved from FC Dallas to Boavista FC of the Portuguese Primeira Liga in September. The 22-year-old said his view of the U.S. has "one hundred million percent" changed since leaving and that explaining the state of the country to others "feels like I am describing medieval times."

Fans were permitted to attend FC Dallas' 1-0 defeat to Nashville SC on Aug. 12 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Members of both teams took a knee during the anthem as a nod to the ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality and social inequality.

Some supporters voiced their disapproval, and one threw a water bottle toward the players. After the match, Cannon called the situation "disgusting" and "disgraceful," saying it "pissed me off." He added that the players initially requested the anthem not to be played at all.

The right back said later FC Dallas provided him with a statement he was supposed to read as an apology for his post-match comments, but he refused.

Cannon has become a regular for Boavista, starting 18 of their 21 league fixtures so far. The club sits last in the league but only one point away from exiting the relegation zone.