FC Dallas became the first Major League Soccer club to allow fans during the coronavirus pandemic, and they were heard from before Wednesday’s game with Nashville SC.
© Cooper Neill – Nashville Soccer Club Nashville SC and FC Dallas players kneel during national anthem ahead of MLS match Aug. 12, 2020 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
Some fans booed during the playing of the national anthem as players from both teams knelt in solidarity, protesting against police brutality of Black people in the United States.
According to the Dallas Morning News, one fan threw a water bottle onto the field and was escorted out of Toyota Stadium.
A total of 2,912 fans attended the game, which Nashville won 1-0 for its first MLS victory. Some of them chanted “USA, USA!” as the players knelt during the anthem.
Dallas right back Reggie Cannon lifted his right fist in the air as he knelt. Cannon called the fans’ booing “disgusting” and “disgraceful.”
“For a lack of a better word, it (ticked) me off,” Cannon told the Morning News. “We discussed it prior with what we were doing. We discussed it with Nashville. Everyone from Nashville was on board. Everyone across the league was on board with what we were going to do.”
Cannon is one of many Black players in MLS who represent the Black Players For Change, which was founded on Juneteenth and works to improve inclusion and experiences of Black players, coaches and staff in MLS.
Wednesday’s match was a continuation of protests before matches. Previous protests were all performed in the Orlando bubble of the MLS Is Back Tournament, although the national anthem was not played.
On the opening night of the tournament July 8, the Black Players for Change, including Nashville center back Jalil Anibaba, among other Nashville players, knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds before Orlando City SC and Inter Miami CF played.
© Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports Aug 12, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; FC Dallas and Nashville SC players kneel before a match at Toyota Stadium.
Cannon said the conversation with MLS did not begin with the demonstration. Initially, players requested for the anthem to not be played before Wednesday’s match. Their request was declined.
“We asked for there to be no anthem because we didn’t feel playing the anthem would be right at this moment,” Cannon said. “They ignored our wishes, so we were gonna kneel regardless if the anthem was going to be played, or not.”
Nashville is scheduled to return to Dallas Sunday for a second meeting in an effort to make up the matches missed by both clubs after being withdrawn from the tournament in Orlando because of positive COVID-19 tests.
Cannon said there’s no stopping players’ will to demand change.
“I want to see the support the league has given us from our fans,” Cannon said. “I love the people that came out tonight, but as soon as I heard that ‘boo,’ I knew I just had to play on and knew what to expect. We will take it one day at a time.”
For stories about Nashville SC or Soccer in Tennessee, contact Drake Hills at DHills@gannett.com. Follow Drake on Twitter at @LiveLifeDrake.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Fans boo, chant ‘USA’ when Nashville SC, FC Dallas players kneel during national anthem