A youth soccer league in Florida finds itself in hot water after the coach for one of the league’s teams was ejected from a recent game for a rather inappropriate reason: He was shouting instructions to his players in Spanish.
As reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Ruben Albarracin, who coaches FC Dallas in the Cooper City Optimist Youth Soccer League, was ejected from a game after continuing to give instructions to his players in Spanish following a warning from referees not to do so. According to Albarracin and his assistant coach, Carlos Perez, the coach was explicitly told not to offer any instructions in Spanish by the two referees working a FC Dallas game against the San Jose Earthquakes squad on Dec. 8.
Albarracin continued to offer coaching instructions in Spanish, and the referees wasted little time in giving him the boot.
"We were told there was a new rule that we could not speak Spanish,” Perez told the Sun-Sentinel. “We told the referees that we wanted to see that rule in writing and that's when things got ugly.”
Albarracin continued to speak Spanish to his players in part because that is the language that most of them identify with. The Cooper City Optimist League hosts a very international collection of teams, and most of Albarracin’s 12 charges are between the ages of 14 and 18 and hail from Latin America.
That makes all of them much more comfortable speaking Spanish than English, which is why the coach gave strategic instructions in Spanish.
According to Cooper City Optimist Club board member Geri Kelly, the league has never had a rule banning any languages from being spoken on the pitch, insisting that this was an incident created by a pair of rogue officials, not a league policy.
"During a meeting, we asked coaches to be careful and, for the benefit of the majority, speak in a language that everyone understands. We have no rule [against speaking Spanish]. How could this be a rule?” Kelly told the Sun-Sentinel.
Albarracin seems to understand, but he isn’t happy about the persecution he felt at the hands of two referees he had never met before.
"I had never felt discriminated before," Albarracin told the Sun-Sentinel.