U.S. men's national team defender Reggie Cannon said that death threats are "part of the society that America is today," something he experienced first-hand while with FC Dallas last summer.
In an interview with The Guardian, the 22-year-old Chicago native said that he felt his safety was compromised after being booed by home fans for kneeling during the national anthem before a match against Nashville SC in August.
“Unfortunately, my safety in America was compromised and that’s the risk you take with pointing out injustices because people are going to disagree," Cannon said. "Threatening to kill your family, threatening to show up at your house, threatening to do vulgar things to you, that I can’t say."
The former UCLA star admitted that "the whole situation with FC Dallas was handled terribly." The Guardian reported that the club asked Cannon to apologize for kneeling during the anthem with a pre-written statement that he was expected to share on his social media channels, a request that Cannon firmly rejected.
“It’s such a polarizing issue when you get down to it but we knew we had to do something that would spark conversation and that was the perfect opportunity to do so," Cannon said. "People were against violent protest, they were against peaceful protest but they weren’t against any of that, they were against us speaking, us talking to point out the injustices that my people are facing and have been facing for the longest time."
The following month, Cannon left FC Dallas in a reported 2.5 million euro ($2.75 million) move to Portuguese side Boavista, where he has made 18 appearances in his first season. Cannon said his view of America has changed drastically since moving abroad.
“Looking at the insurrection, Texas freezing over right now … explaining to my teammates what is going on in the country is baffling to me. Explaining the America I have lived in to those who don’t live in America, it feels like I am describing medieval times.”