July 2, 2012
'A LITTLE BIT OF A FARCE'
Red Bulls U-23's upset over treatment at FC New York home game
By Michael Lewis
As it turns out, FC New York did not wear jerseys supporting Milt Romney's presidential election campaign as the club announced on game day on Saturday. But the National Premier Soccer League team apparently opened up another can of worms or two before, during and after its game with the Red Bulls Under-23 team.
Red Bulls officials were angry over a number of incidents, according to reliable sources in the league, and have sent an email to the league delineating the problems. The long list included dubious advertising, the lack of a trainer or a doctor at the match, the fact no water or food was provided for the visitors, as per league rules, and the fact the team was not given enough time to warm up.
"It was unprofessionally done," said one Red Bulls official of the game.
FC New York won the game, 3-2, which was played at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y.
"We don't like to make excuses," one Red Bull official said. "They didn't play well enough."
But the overall standards were another matter.
"It was a little bit of a farce," he said.
Phone calls and emails to FC New York and its president, Doug Peterson, requesting comment, have gone unanswered since Saturday.
NPSL president Andy Zorovich said that "there have been issues and standards" questions that have been brought up, but "have been addressed."
FC New York apparently never billed the match featuring as the Red Bulls' Under-23 team and many fans showed up expecting the full team, including designated players and stars Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez. The No. 1 side was in Toronto, playing to a 1-1 draw on Saturday night.
"It was evident that folks who paid for admission to the match were under the impression the Red Bulls first team was going to be in attendance," a source said.
Prior to the match, FCNY asked the Red Bulls U-23 if it could sign autographs in the spirit of promoting the game. However, the team did not realize the autograph session ate into its warm-up session. Red Bulls U-23 coach John Wolyniec was upset, source said.
"A lot of things went on that was not in the league's best interest," a source said.
The Red Bulls claimed FC New York did not have a trainer or a doctor in attendance, as required by the league.
When the game was completed, FC New York did not have any water, drinks or food for the visitors, again, as required by the league. But a FC New York representative said for the Red Bulls to take a cooler with drinks. It was discovered to be filled with beer, which was not appropriate and illegal for many players who were underage.
A club official called that "insulting and embarrassing."
He added: "We believe in doing things the right way. It was really disrespectful."
At least one club official from another team was upset about FC New York's antics.
"It gives the league a black eye," the official said. "It gives [minor-league] soccer a major black eye. It kills soccer in New York.
"It goes beyond amateur. To pull off stuff like that it is unthinkable."
The match was destined for controversy.
In a press release trumpeting the shirt announcement on the day of the game, FC New York said it would wear jerseys featuring Romney and his slogan, "Believe in America" for the rest of the year. Funds for the shirts were provided by a mystery donor the club refused to reveal.
According to FIFA and NPSL regulations, teams are not allowed to wear jerseys that have any political or religious messages.
Zorovich said that he "didn't think they were wearing [those] jerseys during the game."
FC New York (2-4-5, 11 points) has suffered three 3-0 forfeits this season -- to the Rhode Island Reds, Brooklyn Italians and Mass United FC this past Sunday.
The team essentially has been nomads this season. FC New York was supposed to play at Burns Park in Massapequa, N.Y, but that somehow fell through. It has played at Theodore Memorial Park Stadium in Oyster Bay, N.Y. and Queens College. FC New York is scheduled to host The Seacoast United Mariners at Theodore Roosevelt Beach Park Stadium, on Saturday at p.m. and the Seacoast United Phantoms at Eastport High School Stadium on July 11 at 7 p.m.