SAN DIEGO -- The idea of bringing Argentine soccer star Maradona to the United States has stirred up quite a controversy around San Diego Sockers owner Oscar Ancira Jr.
Soccer International Magazine editor Graham Jones wrote an entire column, in which Ancira says "the nicest thing he said about me was that I am 'feeble-minded.' "
He has received letters from fans saying they will turn in their season tickets if Maradona joins the Sockers.
He has received calls from European writers, who have wasted little time in telling him he is "naive," if he thinks he can circumvent FIFA's ban on Maradona playing anywhere in the near future.
FIFA, the international governing body, has suspended Maradona for the next 18 months for allegedly using and selling drugs.
"I don't like talking about it," said Ancira. "It's a tough subject. As a human being, your first reaction is to say, 'Don't bring him here. He's a drug addict. We've got enough of those.' But he can be an advantage in an anti-drug campaign. To many young people, he's a hero as a soccer player."
Personally, Ancira says he wishes kids weren't so intent on idolizing athletes.
"Most of these guys are so one-dimensional, their life span is over at age 35," said Ancira. "I wish kids would look up to the people who make them what they are" -- parents, teachers, coaches, businessmen."
He shrugged, knowing it is a wish unlikely to be fulfilled. But, Ancira is not "feeble-minded".
"The guy is a drug dealer, and I don't see him coming to the United States if he is a drug dealer and a drug user and continues his ways," said Ancira. "The only way he can come here and put together a program is if Maradona would really consider doing something for the community. If he would take that very unfortunate incident of his and try to talk to kids about it. Otherwise, if we're not or he's not convinced we're not going to do it."
Ancira says Maradona's agent likes the community service idea.
"Which means they didn't say no," Ancira said. "I think we'll need to have another meeting soon."
* WHAT A (SIDE)KICK: Four games into this 40-game season, the Dallas Sidekicks remain perfect. Tatu, Kevin Smith and Jan Goossens continue to lead the way, but not without a little help from some unlikely sources. Friday, former Blast midfielder Richard Chinapoo contributed a goal, to give Dallas a momentary 6-5 lead, and then, in the fourth quarter, another Blast alum, defender Mike Uremovich, produced the game-winner.
* LOST WEEKEND: The Cleveland Crunch lost back-to-back 7-6 road games at Dallas and Wichita. The Wichita loss was the hardest to take, given the Crunch held a 6-2 halftime lead.
The two games also featured these high/low lights:
* In Dallas, both Cleveland and Dallas showed up in white uniforms causing a 20-minute delay, before it was determined they'd have to do the best they could, because no other uniforms could be found.
* Wichita's Dale Ervine scored four goals, three in the second-half Wings rally and assisted on Perry Van Der Beck's game-winner.
* Cleveland's Zoran Karic was held point-less in Dallas, for only the fourth time in the last 50 regular-season games.
* Cleveland's Theo Kulsdom kicked Wichita's Chico Borja in the head and the ref wound up throwing Borja and Crunch defender David Hoggan out of the game.
Borja had come up swinging after the kick and Hoggan flew to Kulsdom's defense, throwing punches with the enthusiasm of an Evander Holyfield. The ref saw the fight, but said after the game he did not see Kulsdom's initial kick. The 8,300 in Kansas Coliseum did, however, booing every time Kulsdom touched the ball.
* The jerseys of former San Diego greats Kaz Deyna (1981-87), the late midfielder; Jean Willrich (1980-87), one of the toughest and most penalized defenders in Sockers' history; and indomitable forward Juli Veee (1980-84, '85-88) were retired last night in an emotional ceremony at halftime.
* The St. Louis Storm, which has decided to add goalkeeper Jim Gorsek instead of former Blast keeper Scott Manning, showed it can also win with aged veteran Slobo Ilijevski (42). With Ilijevski in goal, the Storm beat the Wings Friday, 8-4, to improve its record to 2-3.