By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 2001
Mamadou Diallo has helped the Mutiny win plenty of games since joining the team last season. But after his latest fine and suspension, it can be argued Diallo also is hurting the team.
Diallo was fined $5,000 and suspended four games (including Wednesday's exhibition with Fulham) for arguing with referee Richard Heron and confronting a fan after Tampa Bay's 2-1 loss Saturday at Colorado.
Diallo claimed the fan was shouting racist comments, and he broke from coach Alfonso Mondelo's grasp to confront the fan. While only words were exchanged, Major League Soccer sent a strong message with its actions.
"Regardless of the nature of the comments, the MLS Disciplinary Committee decided there is no justification for a player attempting to physically confront a customer in response to comments," a league statement said.
It is Diallo's second fine and suspension this season and his third since joining MLS. Diallo was suspended two games and fined $1,000 this season for a hard tackle and shoving match with New York/New Jersey's Mike Petke.
In July, Diallo was suspended and fined for a game after berating an official after a game. He was serving a yellow card point suspension at the time and not playing in the match.
As part of this latest punishment, Diallo must take anger management classes.
The Mutiny, on a four-game losing streak, has been hit hard with injuries to the defense. Having Diallo out will make things worse. The Mutiny didn't score in two games against Chicago without Diallo.
Mondelo said he has spoken with Diallo numerous times about controlling his emotions.
"We talk to him all the time," Mondelo said. "We try to tell him to concentrate on the game, there's nothing you can do about it, nothing's going to change. Don't make things worse. Think about the team. We tell him all that, but he's just an emotional person. That's what makes him the player he is, but that can turn against him as well."
Mondelo promises to continue working with Diallo, who will continue to practice with the team.
"The player has no say in this league," Diallo said. "There is nothing I can do."
Mondelo knows once Diallo returns to the lineup he will be under the microscope.
"It's going to be magnified," Mondelo said. "Because of the kind of player he is, the presence he is on the field, that attracts a lot of attention to him."