The Washington Diplomats have declined to sponsor a scheduled soccer game between a Chinese all-star team and the U.S. national squad scheduled for RFK Stadium Oct. 6.
The game will be the first in a five-city tour for the Chinese, who will also face the U.S. team in Atlanta and San Francisco and will meet the Tampa Bay Rowdies and The Cosmos, North American Soccer League champions.
"This puts the game in doubt," said Greg Bonann, who is directing the tour. "We're still very optimistic that we can get a sponsor in Washington and we want very badly to play there. But we only have a short time." Bonann works for the West Nally company, which is sponsoring the tour, and is a consultant for the United States Soccer Federation.
The Dips were willing to sponsor the game if the Chinese played against them rather than the U.S. team. "I didn't find out out until our third conversation that any team other than the U.S. national team would be playing the Chinese on the tour," said Steve Danzansky, president of the Dips, "Then later I found out about Tampa Bay. We just felt that we're in the Washington Diplomats business, not the promotion business."
Bonann said that the Rowdies and Cosmos were paying sizable sums for their games and , "The Diplomats just weren't there with the money when we needed them. Maybe they didn't know how much we needed money.
"The main purpose of the tour from our point of view is to give the U.S. national team experience against international competition. The only reason we brought the pro teams in at all is because without them there wouldn't have been any tour."
Time was also a factor in the Dips' dicision to turn down the game. "We just decided with the time involved we were better off turning down the game than going ahead like this," said Washington general manager John Carbray. "And we thought the Dips were a better attraction."
Bonann said he and the U.S. Soccer Federation are "trying desperately" to find another sponsor in Washington so the game can be played. Carbray and Danzansky said they would cooperate in any way they could with another Washington sponsor.
"Washington is the one city the Chinese would ask us about if we didn't schedule a game there," said Bonnan. "We have lots of other cities that want the game, but we want it in Washington if it's at all possible."