The National Labor Relations Board has charged the North American Soccer League and its member clubs, including the Washington Diplomats, with 40 violations of federal labor laws based on complaints filed by the players' union.

The basic charges against the teams included threatening to fire players who participated in a strike, reducing the salaries of striking players and undermining union leadership by refusing to recognize the association as long as Ed Garvey the unions's staff direcotr, was part of it.

In the Diplomats' case, John Carbray, former general manager, was cited for interfering with the club's union meeting and strike vote.

Diplomats President Steve Danzansky, whose law firm represents the league, said the complaint was expected and characterized it as a "desperate act" on Garvey's part while the issue of recognition still is in the courts.

Most of the allegations stem from a four-day strike last April by the North American Soccer Players Association, which was seeking official recognition by the NASL as the players' collective bargaining agent.

The association won the right to represent the players during an election conducted by the NLRB in August, 1978. The owners, however, refused to recognize or bargain with the association and have appealed the NLRB ruling in federal court.

Because of the owners' position, the players struck on April 13 and their list of complaints arising from that action is scheduled to be heard March 3 by an administrative law judge in New York.

The NLRB complaint was filed last week, but made public yesterday by Garvey, who also is executive director of the National Football League Players Association.

The complaint affects only the 21 United States clubs in the 24-team league. Seven clubs, including the Washington Diplomats, were singled out as the major violators.

The three majors violations cited for the league were for refusing to deal with the players' association; attempting to undermine union leadership, and unilaterally changing the players' working conditions by beginning an indoor soccer season, as an extension of the regular outdoor season.

"The owners and the league have succeeded thus far in making our struggle sound like it's a legal issue concerning whether a league-wide bargaining unit is appropriate," Garvey said.

"The NLRB complaint demonstrates the league's willingness to violate the law and to threaten and coerce the players," he continued. "They are not just avoiding recognition, but they are also violating the individual rights of players."

Thomas Walsh, a Washington attorney representing the league said there would be no comment until the complaint can be studied further.

The clubs cited in the complaint and the number of their alleged violations are: Fort Lauderdale Strikers 12; California Surf, nine; San Diego Sockers, six; Memphis Rogues, three; Los Angeles Aztecs, two; Washington Diplomats, one, and Chicago Sting, one. The Six other complaints are against the league itself.