An official of the Immigration and Naturalization Service said today that foreign players who compete in North American Soccer League games could be deported as strikebreakers.
"As I understand it, a labor dispute has been declared (in a strike called by the NASL Players Association)," said Tim Dorsey, a supervisory crimianl investigator for the INS Washingtion field office.
"Aliens used to break the strike will be in violation of the stauttes and subject to deportation for participating as strikebreakers.
"INS can act on its own information.
"Many of the teams are calling us. We tell them they cannot play their aliens or import new players," Dorsey said. The INS would not police the games today.
Washington Diplomats President Steve Danzansky said Friday that U.S. District Court Judge George Hart had said that foreign players could not be deported.
"We're not in the business of deporting anyone," said Danzansky.
Ed Garvey, executive director of the players association, said the strike, called Friday, could be settled "as soon as management comes o the bargaining table.
"It won't cost them a dime. There's only one issue involved, recognition of the union."
Because the 24 NASL team owners have failed to recognize the 2-year-old players' union, the association called for a strike Friday.
Garvey said the players voted, 252-113, in favor of a work stoppage.
"The games will be a sham on the public," said Garvey. "We know some players will play but the strike will have some effect on the games."
What concerns many observers are the long-range effects the strike will have on soccer in this country.
Many palyers feel the sport, beginning its 13th year in the U.S., cannot afford a strike at this time. Others say Garvey, also the executive derector of the NFL Players Association, is not concerned with soccer but only with escalating his reputation as a tough negotiator.
Garvey is a union man. He cares nothing for soccer," said one NASL coach. "I think the players would support a union if they had total confidence in the man running the show. But they would want a soccer man, not a football man."
Both the union and team owners have thrown charges and counter-charges at one another. Both have said the other has used intimidating tactics while threatening foreign players with deportation. The league is made up of approximately 55 percent foreign players.
Other players say they have refused to honor the strike not because of mistrust of the union or the team owners, but because they simply can't afford it.
"Each of us had a decision to make and you did it based on your own situation," said Washington midfielder Jim Steele. "Some of us just can't afford to lose the money."
When the union was formed in August, 1977, 93 percent of the players signed cards authorizing the formation of a union. Management frfused to recognize the association.
The matter then went before the National Labor Relations Board, which ordered an election of all players. Management agreed and the players association won hadily by a 3-to-1 vote. Thus the association was certified in September, 1978. But again management refused recognition.
The player representatives then gave team owners until March 30 to recognize its union. Management again refused and the associaton called for a strike.
"A strike can only hurt soccer, the players and the teams," said Derek Carroll, chairman of the NASL (owners) labor realtions committee.
"If we were in negotiation and we were at an impasse, I could understand their willingness to take a strike," said Garvey. "But to accept a strike over recognition is beyond my comprehension."
Garvey said the length of the strike would depend on management's next step.
"We will evaluate week by week and see what happens," Gravey said.