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Prawo sportowe 06.03.2024

[Sports law] Dispute before STA - the Sports Arbitration Tribunal at PZKosz - the Polish Basketball Association. Termination of a contract due to the club's fault - a case study.

[Sports law] Dispute before STA - the Sports Arbitration Tribunal at PZKosz - the Polish Basketball Association. Termination of a contract due to the club's fault - a case study.| ADVISER Armknecht & Partners Sports Law Firm

We encourage you to read the interview of a professional basketball player - Mateusz Szczypiński, who was represented by attorney Mr. Bartosz Armknecht in a legal dispute before STA - the Sports Arbitration Tribunal at PZKosz - the Polish Basketball Association in the case against Sokół Łańcut. The case was won by the player, and STA determined that the basketball player's contract was terminated due to the club's fault and awarded compensation and charged the basketball club in full with the costs of the arbitration proceedings and the player's legal fees.
The interview was given by basketball player Mr. Mateusz Szczypiński on March 1, 2024 to the Polskikosz.pl portal

Below we present a translation of an extensive fragment of the interview, in which the player himself presents his point of view on a legal dispute in the field of sports law in basketball.

The entire interview, as well as the position of the losing party in the legal sports dispute - the basketball club, can be found at the link below.

 

PolskiKosz.pl Editorial Team: Why - after almost three seasons - did you stop being a Sokół Łańcut player?

Mateusz Szczypiński: To present the entire situation precisely, we have to go back to December 6 last year. Then in Gdynia, I played my last match for Sokół Łańcut. At that time, I didn't know that my adventure in the club was over after more than 2.5 years. Nothing announced this before.

After the away match, as usual, we got a few days off. During the first post-match training session, I was called to talk to coach Marek Łukomski and his assistant Marcin Wit. During this conversation, I was verbally informed that, by the decision of the staff, I was removed from the team. The coaching staff completely surprised me. Honestly, I didn't know where this decision came from. Then I had a conversation with the club's management.

The entire conversation lasted over an hour. I heard three accusations from the club: unethical attitudes and failure to follow the coach's instructions, unethical behavior towards teammates and aggressive behavior towards teammates, and any public activities causing damage to the image of the club and its sponsors.

Did you agree with these allegations?

No, because they were false accusations against me. The club's management did not provide anything to support their version, and even after my explanations, they agreed with me on many issues. Despite this, a disciplinary penalty was imposed on me and I was removed from playing and training with the team.

I must note here that during the entire period of my stay in Łańcut, I was never subjected to any disciplinary punishment, and I never received any written warning or other such warnings. I realize that I have a difficult character and certain actions could be perceived negatively, but I am the same player who came to Łańcut and with whom it was decided to extend the contract for the next season.

Together with my agent, Maciej Schwarz, we did not accept the penalty imposed on me, considering it unfair because it questioned my attitude as a player and as a person.

Did the club try to terminate the contract by mutual consent?

Yes, at the very beginning attempts were made to terminate the contract by mutual consent, but this happened only after accusations were made against me and in the manner described earlier. As it turned out, I should have expected everything from the club, because they were planning to remove me from the team.

The subsequent proposal from the club was unacceptable to me as a player. We sent our proposal to the agent, which was also not accepted by the club, and no further negotiations were undertaken to reach an agreement. The club simply expected me to accept their offer. They repeated this offer, hoping that since I was left without the opportunity to train and was removed from the team, I would agree to these conditions. However, in my opinion, this is probably not what the "agreement of the parties" is about.

Why did you decide to sue the club?

I was somehow forced to defend my cases and as an athlete I took up the challenge. I referred the case to STA - the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the Polish Basketball Association. I had to take these actions quickly. This was due to several reasons: it was the pre-Christmas period and at the same time the end of the first league transfer window was approaching. Moreover, the club did not enter into negotiations and even though I was still removed from the team, I could not accept transfer offers from other clubs.

I would not like to talk publicly about the details of the proceedings before the STA, because it is an arbitration proceeding that is confidential by default.

The parties had to wait a while for this matter to be resolved.

Throughout this period, the topic was repeatedly raised in the club's media by fans who asked what was happening to me as a club player. So far, no statement has been issued in my case. This was not done even after the STA issued its judgment and it is not known whether there will be any announcement on this matter at all. The only information came from my agent Maciej Schwarz on the website X (formerly Twitter). Throughout the case, only letters were exchanged between lawyers.

The situation was very difficult for me. On the one hand, I was still under contract, but at the same time I was removed from training and matches. As I said earlier, I also couldn't train with another team. This is really not a comfortable situation for the player. Even more so because despite the club removing me from my activities, my agent was informed that I was committing further disciplinary actions for which I would be punished. I perceived it as an attempt to escalate the problem and put pressure on me to adopt certain behaviors.

(...)

Since when have you been a free agent?

On February 14, I received very good information from my sports lawyer who represented me in the legal dispute with the club that I had won the case. I will not go into details, but STA recognized my claims against the club, ruling that my contract with Sokół Łańcut was terminated on January 4, 2024 due to the club's fault. The letter states that the award is final and ends the arbitration in the case. After over two months of uncertainty and putting my basketball career on hold, I finally felt relieved that I was a free agent.

What does winning STA mean?

For me, this means that none of the allegations made by the club from Łańcut have been confirmed, because they simply did not happen. In sports arbitration, there is a judge - an arbitrator who evaluates all the evidence. He listened to each side and made the final decision based on extensive testimony and documents.

I would like to increase awareness that players have the soul of warriors and can successfully fight for their rights. That's why I think this verdict means something more for Polish basketball.

I understand that from the very beginning you were willing to reach an agreement with the club, even if you had to leave and look for a new employer?

Of course I didn't want to fight with the club and break up like that. I wanted to reach an agreement, but there are certain limits that, out of respect for the club and also for myself, I cannot cross. I believe this could definitely have been avoided and resolved in a different way. Thus, the club would be better off both image-wise and financially, and there would be no bad taste.

However, I had to fight for myself in STA, but through no fault of my own. And just as I have to accept that the club deprived me of almost three months of my sports life and behaved unfairly towards me, the club must accept defeat and should accept that certain behaviors are unacceptable.

Do you regret that it turned out this way?

I didn't start this fight. However, I remember well how I admitted in one of the interviews that the biggest punishment for me as a basketball player is taking away playing minutes, not money. I still maintain this position. I am aware that I have lost 76 days of play (as of February 20, 2024), but I also know that the club took this time from me illegally. Ultimately, STA recognized my rights and terminated the contract with Sokół Łańcut due to the club's fault, and I am ready to open a new chapter in my career.

From here I would like to thank my agent, who has actively supported me all this time, and the lawyer representing me, Mr. Bartosz Armknecht from the ADVISER Armknecht & Partners attorneys-at-law law firm, specializing in sports law, who professionally and, most importantly, effectively guided my case. case at STA. sports law law firm  Gdańsk Gdynia Sopot polish  lawyer sports law poland law firm


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