An RFK Stadium official said the Washington Diplomats are behind in their payments for use of the facility, and several former players have accused team owner Julio Pinon of issuing bad checks or delaying and witholding money they are owed.

RFK Stadium General Manager Jim Dalrymple said the American Soccer League team has "fallen behind" in lease payments recently. The franchise is charged $7,000 per game, plus various expenses, for use of the 55,750-seat facility.

"They're just not drawing and, unless {the Diplomats} can prove they have more capital up front, we would not go into another year's lease with them," Dalrymple said.

The Diplomats (4-4) have drawn 19,651 fans for six home matches this season, an average of 3,260 spectators per game. Without a May 27 doubleheader that drew 12,000 for the Diplomats-Orlando Lions match and an exhibition between Central American all-stars and Vasco da Gama, Brazil's most prestigious club team, the average would be 1,275.

"Hopefully, the team will play better and the fans will come watch," Pinon said. "Yes, it can improve. It can't get worse; it can only get better."

Goalkeeper Charles Arndt, a former All-Met from Kennedy High School who was sold to the Maryland Bays this week, said his April paycheck -- a personal check from Pinon issued May 12 -- was returned by the bank a week later for insufficient funds.

Asked about the check, Pinon said: "It is not true."

Problems between Pinon and Arndt began in mid-May when first-year coach John Ellinger resigned over personal differences with management. Ellinger said he no longer could tolerate Pinon's "overinvolvement" and pressure to boost sagging attendance.

Arndt, the NCAA goalkeeper of the year at South Carolina in 1988, said he signed with the Diplomats because of Ellinger, and when the coach was forced to resign May 17, he complained to Pinon.

"As far as I know, Charlie was very upset because the coach was basically fired," Pinon said. "I told him he played for the Diplomats, not for John Ellinger."

Said Arndt: "Julio had always said that if we were unhappy he would be more than willing to release us. I approached him and he said no. He said if I was happy or not, I had to stay."

After the check reportedly bounced, Arndt said he filed a grievance with the ASL offices in Jessup, Md.

"The player made a formal complaint regarding the matter between him and the team," ASL Commissioner David Prouty said. "He is entitled to that under league bylaws. That started a process to resolve the problem . . . It was resolved."

Arndt, who is second in the league with a 0.81 goals-against average, was sold to the Bays for $2,000.

Defender Steve Kokulis, a first-year player from Potomac, Md., said he received a good check -- also from Pinon's account -- at the same time as Arndt. Players are paid at the beginning of each month, but Kokulis and Irving Williams, who was released this week, said they have not yet received this month's checks.

Defender Ronald Simmons played two seasons for the Diplomats before signing with the Fairfax-based Washington Stars this year. Simmons, who works at a downtown Washington bank, recalled going to work a few minutes early to deposit a Diplomats check last year. He said it bounced.

"I think they still owe me money, but I consider it lost," Simmons said. "There's a lot of bad blood."

Midfielder Omid Namazi also played two seasons and signed with the Columbia-based Bays this year. Namazi said he agreed to terms with the Diplomats in the spring -- although he said the team owed him $600 for the 1989 season -- but indicated to Pinon that he wanted to keep his options open.

In the meantime, Namazi said he was given Diplomats tickets worth about $2,000 to sell for the upcoming season. When Namazi told Pinon he received a better contract offer from the Bays, Pinon asked for the tickets back. Namazi didn't return them until he got the money owed him.

Namazi, who said he never had a Diplomats check bounce, said: "It wasn't in my heart {to return to the Diplomats} because of the things that happened. It's not a healthy atmosphere. As a player, you're never comfortable."

Ellinger, Arndt, Kokulis and Williams said Pinon blamed the players and coaches for the small crowds the team has drawn.

"They don't know how to do anything. It's ridiculous," said Williams, who said the team owes him $700 for four games last month.

Forwards Paul Boulad and Sadri Gjonbalaj also were released this week. Pinon said he is trying to sign free agent Mirko Castillo, the league's fourth all-time leading scorer before this season, and former Albany Capitals goalie Vojislav Stanisic.