[CONTROVERSY] A coach was ejected for giving instructions in Spanish to some of his players in a Florida youth league run by the Optimist Club of Cooper City. In the game between teams named after MLS clubs FC Dallas and the San Jose Earthquakes, FC Dallas coach Ruben Albarracin was sent off because the referee cited a league rule prohibiting speaking in Spanish, Albarracin told the Sun Sentinel.
The Sun Sentinel was unable to get an explanation from the referee, but it did reach Optimist Club board member Geri Kelly, who denied there being an English-only rule.
"During a meeting, we asked coaches to be careful and, for the benefit of the majority, speak in a language that everyone understands," Kelly said. "We have no rule [against speaking Spanish]. How could this be a rule?
"This is a youth recreational program, with players of different races and nationalities, and we want all the players to enjoy the benefit of the instructions offered by their coaches. We want everybody to understand."
Albarracin's players range from 14 to 18, and are mostly immigrants or the children of immigrants from Latin America.
Albarracin's assistant coach Carlos Perez said, "We were told there was a new rule that we could not speak Spanish. We told the referees that we wanted to see that rule in writing and that's when things got ugly."
A claim by Albarracin and Perez that referees have also tried to discourage players from speaking among themselves in Spanish was denied by Optimist Club leaders. They told Sun Sentinel reporter Aurelio Moreno that they have told coaches to be careful because last year a coach speaking in Hebrew told some of his players to break the legs of a rival team during a game.