Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In for a quick buck? DC United lawsuit

Steve Goff is reporting that DC United, MLS, AEG and Hristo Stoitchkov are all being sued by former American University soccer player Freddy Llerena, of Germantown, Maryland. Llerena is seeking a total of $10 million stemming from having his leg broken by Stoitchkov in a practice match in 2003. Stoitchkov tackled Llerena in the 10th minute of the match, essentially destroying his leg. For the rest of the situation, please check out Goff's article at the Washington Post.

This is something of an interesting situation. Does something that happened on the field in a game have grounds for punishment outside of the scope of the sport? Hockey has shown that events on the rink can be further prosecuted in a criminal court, ask Marty McSorley who was found guilty of assault with a weapon in 2000. Should Stoitchkov have had criminal charges brought against him? I don't know.

I didn't see the offense, but from everything I read about it when the tackle happened, Stoitchkov was nothing but remorseful, after it happened. Before it happened, he seemed to have been piping mad and may have just lost it for a moment and taken his anger out on the freshman AU player. Because a guy who was upset took his anger out on another person, but did it on a soccer field in a soccer match, does that make it any different than if I was mad and walked up to a random guy in DC and smacked him?

I honestly think that Llerena should be compensated for what happened. He seems to have developed a leg problem as a result of the injuries. His playing career appears to have been cut short due to the tackle, so the tackle did seem to change the course of his life. For that, I think he should be compensated. $10 million is a little too much though.

I question the timing of this as well. According to Goff, the lawsuit was filed in February of 2006, three years after the event. I question what took so long.

I feel bad for the kid and I wish him the best. I just don't think he should get $10 million from this. I also hope that this doesn't further the practice of trying to punish people outside of sports, for events that happen in sports. The difference between me smacking a guy on the street and Stoitchkov tackling Llerena is that Llerena (I assume) signed a waiver with American University and was fully qualified to play soccer. Most anyone who plays organized sports has to sign a waiver that absolves the organization from responsibility for any harm that the participants may encounter while partaking in such events. This tragedy, in my opinion, should be covered in this waiver. Funny how AU wasn't named in the lawsuit. Doesn't MLS have an agreement with AU or anyone else they "practice" with?

Claiming that DC United and MLS were negligent in hiring Stoitchkov because he was a known risk (his nickname was "The Mad Bulgarian"), in my opinion doesn't hold water either. Stoitchkov was a professional soccer player and unless some licensed psychologist clinically declared him insane or something, there is no legal basis to show that Stoitchkov was a threat.

I assume that this will get settled out of court and Llerena will be compensated, which I feel he should have (if he wasn't anyways) right after the event happened. $10 million just isn't what he deserves.



Blogger Juan said...

Doesn't make sense... If you don't wanna get hurt when playing a sport.. you can either not play it or play it on video games.

The problem is whether or not a University team of the United States should have been parmited to play against Pro players.
Soccer in the States ain't developed in order to Univeristy players to play against the Pro..

Maybe it is in Football or basket, but not in soccer.. coz the level sucks.

10:07 AM  

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