The Washington Diplomats, still seething over "incompetent officiating" they believe led to their 2-1 loss Sunday to the Cosmos at RFK Stadium, filed a protest with the North American Soccer League office yesterday.
While many players and Coach Gordon Bradley did not expect the league to do anything but read and file the letter, they hoped the protest would show that the club is not going to tolerate poor officiating.
"We're protesting to bring it to the notice of the people and the fans of the game," Bradley said. "We had to protest to bring to prominence the face that we need to improve the quality of officiating. Before the Atlanta game, I felt the officiating had improved over last year. But the referee in Atlanta last week was the pits.
"Now Sunday's referee, Toras Kibritjian, has a good name in this league.But, like players, he had a bad game. The linesman (Gordon Arrowsmith) was totally out of the game. He made both calls on the goals we had taken away. I don't think any linesman should have that much jurisdiction to make those decisions."
In the protest, the Diplomats asked for a review of the referee's decision to disallow Alan Green's goat at the 85:20 mark.
The game was nationally televised by ABC-TV and Bradley, who said he watched the replay "100 times," said the call that Ken Mokgojoa had fouled the Cosmos' Jeff Durgan, which nullified Green's goal, was "very bad." Following the call, Arrowsmith was shoved by Washington's Joe Horvath and an irate spectator. The official also was felled by a piece of ice thrown from the seats and required first aid. He was not seriously hurt and remained in the game.
After the altercation, Horvath was given an automatic ejection red card, Johan Cruyff was tagged with a yellow card for verbal dissent and Carmine Marcantonio received a red card for allegedly tossing a towel at Kibritjian at the game's end. The Diplomats insist none of the cards would have been necessary if the officials had been in control of the game.
League rules state that players receiving red cards must sit out the next game. Therefore, Marcantonio, Horvath and Cruyff, whose two yellow cards are the equivalent of a red, but do not carry an automatic suspension, would be able to play in Philadelphia Wedenesday night. Cruyff, however, has a pulled thigh muscle and will be out a week to 10 days. He will be eligible to play against Fort Lauderdale at RFK June 15.
Bradley must bench either Marcantonio or Horvath for that game. League rules say only one player must sit out at a time, so Bradley has a choice. Juan Jose Lazano, who drew a red card in the Atlanta game and sat out the Cosmos game, will play Wednesday night against the Fury (3-7).
The Diplomats also protested the nullification of Cruyff's first-half goal, disallowed because Green had been called for obstructing the goalie by one official for being offside by another.
Also in the protest, Washington asked for a ruling on the Cosmos' treating goalkeeper Hubert Birkenmeier for an injury during the tie breaker shootout. According to Washington officials, Diplomat goalie Bill Irwin protested to the referee, who ordered the Cosmos' medical staff back to the bench. At least one refused and was escorted away by security personnel.
Birkenmeier, who stopped four of Washington's shootout attempts -- another hit the post -- said he was not receiving medical attention, just "strategical tips on the players."
Many of the Dips were particularly upset over the loss because they had played in front of 53,351, the largest crowd in Washington soccer history and the largest in the league this season.
Late yesterday, NASL Commissioner, Phil Woosnam said, "We have received the protest but have not yet been able to review the tapes of the game. After the review of the tapes, a decision will be made." Woosnam was at the game Sunday.
League officials said a decision would not be made before Wednesday.