If "Bill" Cunningham, president of the American Soccer League, visualized ascendancy to supreme dictator of American soccer, as many believe he has, he will probably find that his castle is crumbling and that the loop he now represents is on the verge of tottering. He has threatened legal entanglements to protect his circuit he now represents and in reply to such proceedings he is challenged by the organization of a new league, sanctioned and protected by the United States Football Association.
The statement issued by Cunningham is accepted by many as uttering of garbled truth in which he does not set forth the true facts involved. His scathing and sarcastic remarks directed against Bethlehem, particularly so where he refers to calling the bluff of the Bethlehem team at the time the management threatened to withdraw is directly in contrast to what really did happen. Perhaps if Mr. Cunningham jogs his memory a bit he will recall that at that meeting it was he who made an impassioned plea that the Bethlehem management reconsider its action and remain in the circuit. He will also probably recall that his plea was made more or less to the management of the Brooklyn club to increase the gate split. If he does recall that meeting he can hardly assume that he called any bluff. It might also be well to remember that before Bethlehem reconsidered its action four other teams in the league came to the fore and offered Bethlehem a bigger gate percentage than the league provided. Is that calling a bluff?
Evaded the Issue
Why did Cunningham refuse to meet a representative of the Bethlehem team on the last invasion of the club to the New England states? In his statement he does not mention that he was in receipt of a telegram suggesting a conference and that he refused to reply. Why then can he have the affront to state that no effort was made to appeal from his decision, either in writing or verbally? His statement is simply setting forth conditions as he would like to have them and have others believe. Bethlehem's representative wanted an interview but President Cunningham apparently did not.
Some More Czarism
"Play the exhibition game today and the club is liable to severe penalty," is the substance of a telegram from President Cunningham to Bethlehem, a club that is no longer identified with the league. Can one imagine the president trying to tell a team what it may and what it may not do after the team has been suspended; kept out of the league schedule; the decision of the president approved at a special league meeting, and last but not least, notice publicly given in the press in a statement that other clubs were available to take the place of the three suspended teams? Under these conditions what authority has the president of the league to order what these clubs should do? It merely describes the attitude and the uttermost lengths to which he is willing to go to make soccer a world of his own. Well, the telegram doesn't mean a thing insofar as the teams involved are concerned. They are going ahead and will play their exhibition games and in so doing have the full sanction of the Eastern Pennsylvania District Football Association and the U. S. F. A.
Not only has Cunningham forwarded telegrams to the management of the Bethlehem team but included the two local referees, J. Harry Carpenter and Horace Williams, one of whom was to be chosen to handle the game here today. Both were ordered not to handle the game. Insofar as the referees are concerned, he was probably within his rights if the officials in question prefer to remain staunch to a league that is threatened with an outlaw status.
Fair-Minded Sportsmen in the Jury
Mr. Cunningham refers to the fair-minded sportsmen as a jury to decide the issue between the league and the National association. That's a joke. What sportsmen would have ruled against Bethlehem at the close of last season when the team was thrown out of the final round for the league championship after having duly complied to all league advices and then dumped on a technicality? Was it sportsmanship for the league to go back ton its own advice given Bethlehem and then rule in favor of another club? The instance referred to is when Bethlehem, playing an outside goalie with the consent of the Boston club and the permission of Dave Scott, league secretary, defeated the Hubmen decisively to qualify for the final against New Bedford. Boston protested and the league sustained it. Cunningham apparently has much to learn about this game of soccer. It can hardly be successfully conducted from an office chair. One of the duties of a president, we would say, would be to at least make a visit of the loop once during the season. Cunningham has not been to Bethlehem and no doubt he missed visiting many other soccer parks. His interest in soccer was strongly reflected on an occasion in which he presented Bethlehem with the Lewis cup and then beat a hasty retreat, witnessing only a few minutes of the game.