by Randy Gray
copyright © 1996, Electric Nevada
|A thick, dark line has been drawn right down the middle of Truckee Meadows soccer fields.|
one side is the Reno Rattlers. On the other is the
Northern Nevada Soccer League.
"It's very divisive," said Mike Simon, owner and operator of the Rattlers.
Simon lashed out at a "lack of support" by Reno's Mexican community following the Rattlers' home game last Saturday, when only 250 paying customers appeared. Attendance has been less than 1,000 for the first two home games of the professional team, which plays in the Select League of the U.S. International Soccer League.
"The Mexican people want everything segregated here," Simon said. "They think their soccer is it and that we don't know anything about running it or playing it. They decided not to support us. It's a racial issue. Soccer should be able to transcend racial things. I'm dealing with a small-minded group of people."
Fernando Corona, vice president of the predominantly Hispanic Northern Nevada Soccer League, denied the charge and claimed Simon reneged on an agreement they had last year in the Cinco de Mayo celebration last year.
"We don't have discrimination for anybody," Corona said. "It's not right to question us about that. We don't do those things. We have all nationalities -- Argentines, Peruanos, Americans. You want to play, you can play."
The Northern Nevada league consists of 46 teams. Twenty percent of the 800 players are Americans, Corona said.
The Rattlers show five Mexican citizens on their roster, but Corona said they had eight of their players last year and kept only two -- Antonio Mora and Alfredo Velazquez. The problem is not with players, but with Simon, Corona said.
"Last year for the Cinco de Mayo celebration, we set up two games. We agreed we would share profits from concessions half and half. Then he (Simon) changed his mind one week before the games. He wanted to take all the money for the Rattlers.
"We don't have an owner. We're a non-profit organization.
"Now we don't want to talk to them about anything. We don't want to fight. We just don't want to have anything more to do with Mike Simon."
Corona said his league had been working with Arnold Petrolino, who was the Rattlers' business manager. "We worked very well together. After Cinco de Mayo, they laid him off."
Simon said he would like a better understanding of the entire situation.
"We need 2,000 paid per game," he said. "I'm at a loss. Maybe the area doesn't know soccer. The Hispanic people shouldn't have a
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problem. Do they know the game or do they not? That
issue I don't understand. My door has always been
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