Attorneys for Mike Petke, former head coach of Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake (RSL), have filed suit against the team alleging defamation and breach of contract. According to the lawsuit, Mr. Petke is owed nearly $700,000 in salary for the remainder of 2019 and all of 2020.
Mr. Petke was dismissed from the team on Aug. 11 following a two-week MLS suspension related to his actions in an incident with an international official following a Leagues Cup match. RSL levied additional sanctions, which were outlined in a contract amendment signed by the coach and RSL leadership while he was on suspension. Although the amendment expressly stipulates that future infractions could result in his dismissal, RSL removed Mr. Petke as coach the day before he was scheduled to return to the team.
“The amendment was clear about what club leaders expected of Mike. He was following that amendment to the letter and looking forward to returning to his team when he was blindsided by ownership,” said Mr. Petke’s attorney, Clayton Bailey of Dallas’ Bailey Brauer PLLC. “The decision was announced in a way calculated to damage his reputation, not just as a coach, but also personally. Refusing to pay the remainder of his salary is a move designed to inflict additional, unwarranted economic damage.”
“What happened here is fairly simple. RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen was recorded contradicting the agreement while speaking to another team’s fans, became embarrassed, and later fired Mike when he had no business doing so,” said Cheyenne, Wyoming, attorney Travis Koch of Overstreet Homar & Kuker.
The case is Mike Petke vs. Utah Soccer, LLC, d/b/a Real Salt Lake, a Utah Limited liability company, No. 190907265 in the Third Judicial District Court of Salt Lake County.
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