Socker Coach Ron Newman was exonerated for what could have been the costliest tweak in Major Indoor Soccer League history, but Newman said Tuesday he's still upset at being fined $2,000 for a religious slur.
Newman received the fine after appealing a $6,000 fine and three-game suspension he received for an altercation with Los Angeles Lazer official Ron Weinstein during a match in the Forum April 4.
At the time of the incident, Newman said: "I called him a Jewish something, but I didn't mean anything by it. . . . I was just tweaking his ear."
MISL Commissioner Bill Kentling met with Newman earlier this season, and then informed the Socker coach in a letter that he canceled the suspension but levied a $2,000 fine. The original fine and suspension had been levied by former commissioner Francis Dale.
Weinstein, the Lazers' vice president of operations, was standing in the television box between the two team benches in the Forum when he told a cable television cameraman to make sure to pick up Newman's discussions with the officials on tape.
"In the letter (which Newman received from Kentling), I was completely exonerated," Newman said Tuesday. "The letter clearly states I was not in the wrong, but he was really upset I would use ethnic or religious slurs."
Kentling levied a $2,000 fine against Newman for his remark.
"Ron Newman was guilty of saying things he shouldn't have," Kentling said, "but I think he was baited."
Newman strongly believes he should not be fined for what he said.
"Good gracious," said Newman, "Getting fined $2,000 for calling anybody a name. Two people had an argument. I didn't hurt the league. . . . Why does the other guy get off? What he said was a terrible thing to say to anyone."
In addition to fining Newman, Kentling ruled that Weinstein could not attend Socker-Lazer games in San Diego this season and could not go to the Socker locker room or near the San Diego box when the Sockers play in the Forum.
"That's (Weinstein going to the Sports Arena) really a recreational activity for him," Newman said. "I told the commissioner, 'I'll forgo the $2,000 fine and he can ban me from Sea World for a year.' It's a bloody joke, except when I have to pass over the $2,000 . . .
"I don't know what I can do. It's totally unfair. I'm the only one to get hurt by it. But my hands are tied. I don't know where I go to get justice. If I pay the money, it's only until I can find a way to get it back. It will be a loan at 7% interest until I can get it returned.
"I just think they found it impossible to let me off all together."
"I don't agree with it and I don't think it's fair, but life isn't always fair," said Socker managing general partner Bob Bell.
Bell was referring to a recent court ruling which upheld an arbitrator's decision that the Sockers pay former San Diego defender Gert Wieczorkowski $26,000 plus interest accrued.
After being released by the Sockers 2 1/2 years ago, Wieczorkowski took legal action to collect $26,000, which was payment for the final 5 1/2 months of his no-cut contract.
Wieczorkowski had been suspended by the team for insubordination a month before he was released. Newman and Wieczorkowski had a blowup during a game over strategic tactics, and Newman felt Wieczorkowski purposely tried to lose a game against the Earthquakes in San Francisco. San Diego lost the match on March 11, 1984, 6-5.
Bell said he does not believe this ruling will set a precedent. Two other former Sockers--Steve Daley and Lorenz Hilkes--also filed arbitration claims after they were released.
"There are totally different circumstances in those case," Bell said.
Midfielder Tim Bartro has returned to work out with the Socker reserve team until he can claim a spot on San Diego's roster. Bartro, who played with Golden Bay in 1983-84 and Tacoma in '84-85, had an assist in four Socker exhibition games this year and scored five goals on six shots in six games with the Sockers last season. . . . After missing the last four games with a sprained right ankle, Brian Quinn is probable for the game against Kansas City Friday night at the San Diego Sports Arena. . . . Former Socker forward Steve Zungul, the MISL's all-time leading scorer, has more blocked shots than goals in Tacoma's first seven games. Zungul has four blocked shots and scored just one goal (also has nine assists) for the first place Stars (6-1).