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Veee Returns to Practice After 32-Day Suspension

December 27, 1987|MARC APPLEMAN

Veteran Socker midfielder Juli Veee did not dress for Saturday's game, but he did practice with the team Saturday morning.

"The boys gave me a standing ovation, which was nice," Veee said. "They were very good about it."

Veee's 32-day suspension ended Friday. He was suspended two days for a "closed personnel incident" that occurred in a Wichita hotel the night before the season opener against the Wings, and he was suspended 30 days for slapping Johan Aarnio, Socker assistant coach, after a game against Minnesota Nov. 22.

Veee, his agent Scott Simpson, Socker President Ron Cady and Coach Ron Newman met Saturday to discuss Veee's return.

"We told Juli he has to earn himself back into a starting role," Cady said. "We wanted to make sure he's all positive. He is. But we expect it will take him a couple of weeks to get back into shape."

Veee said he's in pretty good shape and could play immediately, despite not practicing with the team for a month. But he said he thinks it will probably take a couple of weeks before he is back in the lineup.

"It's basically up to Ron (Newman)," Veee said.

The team went 7-3 during Veee's suspension, and Newman said he doesn't want to tinker with a winning combination.

"He has to perform in practice to show he's ready," Newman said. "I like the way everyone else is playing. He's our 18th man on the roster."

Teams are permitted to dress 15 players per game.

But the usually outspoken Veee doesn't want to get into politics now. He said he wants to put the suspension behind him and he won't hold grudges, but he believes the Sockers' new management made an example of him in handing down such a harsh penalty.

A 30-day suspension is the maximum allowable penalty for a "major offense" under the Major Indoor Soccer League's collective bargaining agreement with the MISL Players' Assn.

"I have no bad feelings," Veee said, but he added that he also has "no illusions that they will build a team around me."

Veee, 37, is in the final year of a $90,000-per-year contract that includes a trade-approval clause. The Sockers attempted to trade Veee during his suspension, but a potential deal with the Baltimore Blast fell through.

"Juli Veee is still a commodity," Veee said. "If Baltimore came up with a good deal, I would have been gone. Cady said that because of the salary cap ($1.275 million per MISL team) and Veee's salary, there is currently no interest from any team in acquiring Veee."

During his suspension, Veee spent most of his time outside San Diego, visiting friends and relatives in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Flagstaff, Ariz. In keeping with his interest in literature and art and with meeting writers and artists, Veee had some memorable experiences during the past month. He met novelist Ray Bradbury, poet Stephen Spender and Hermes Pan, a choreographer for the late Fred Astaire.

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