MLS condemns 'appalling' abuse against Dallas' Cannon

(Reuters) - Major League Soccer (MLS) on Thursday condemned fan abuse against FC Dallas and Nashville SC players who kneeled during the national anthem and reiterated their support for those that opt to peacefully protest against social injustice.

Players from both teams took a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement before Wednesday’s game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, but their gesture was overshadowed by booing from a small section of fans.

Dallas defender Reggie Cannon, who is Black, called the reaction from spectators disgusting, and the 22-year-old faced intense backlash on social media.

“As we have stated consistently, Major League Soccer supports players and staff who protest peacefully on behalf of equality and social justice,” the league said in a statement on Thursday. “Some of the comments made... were appalling. We want to be clear that MLS will not tolerate any abuse or threats to any individual player or team.”

Dallas chairman Clark Hunt and president Dan Hunt also extended their support to Cannon.

“The racist comments and death threats he has received are repulsive. There is no place in our sport, or in our country, for the kind of horrific vitriol he had to endure,” they said in a joint statement. “Hateful or violent threats are never warranted. We will continue to work together against racism and in the cause of equality for all.”

Wednesday’s game was the first for Dallas and Nashville since March, after the two teams withdrew from the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando because of COVID-19 cases in their respective squads.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru. Editing by Gerry Doyle