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Colter Peterson, KSL, File

Real Salt Lake settles lawsuit with former coach Mike Petke

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Updated - Apr. 21, 2020 at 6:52 p.m. | Posted - Apr. 21, 2020 at 4:21 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Mike Petke’s case against his former club is closed.

The former Real Salt Lake manager, who was fired last summer after a public display of anger directed toward an official following a Leagues Cup match, has agreed to dismiss his lawsuit against Utah Soccer, LLC (the company owned by Dell Loy Hansen that operates RSL, Utah Royals FC, and Real Monarchs), Major League Soccer and MLS commissioner Don Garber.

Utah 3rd District Court Judge Patrick Corum upheld a joint motion to dismiss the lawsuit March 5, two days after it was filed, according to court documents.

“The claims asserted by Plaintiff Mike Petke against Utah Soccer, LLC d/b/a Real Salt Lake in this matter are dismissed with prejudice … against Major League Soccer, LLC in this matter are dismissed with prejudice … against Defendant Don Garber in this matter are dismissed with prejudice,” the motion for dismissal states. “Each party shall bear its own attorneys’ fees and costs.”

The order was approved by attorneys representing Petke, Garber and Real Salt Lake.

Petke’s lawsuit claimed he was owed nearly $700,000 remaining on his contract following his firing. Terms of the suit’s dismissal were not disclosed.

Petke was fired following a July 24 match against Mexican side Tigres, when he was alleged to have used a Spanish homophobic slur while railing against a Panamanian referee. Part of the tirade was caught on television cameras, while others — such as Petke delivering the word on paper to the official in his post-match locker room — were alleged in additional court filings.

After a three-match suspension, $25,000 fine, and a sentencing that included anger management counseling, RSL terminated Petke’s contract.

Petke filed the lawsuit Sept. 17, claiming the club owed him $687,500 in unpaid salary. Just under a month later, on Oct. 10, RSL filed a motion in Utah’s 3rd District Court asking the judge to either dismiss the lawsuit or make Petke settle in arbitration with the league, under the auspices of Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber, according to RSL’s claims of the originally contracted agreement with the coach.

The club claimed Petke was using a “media campaign to attack RSL,” while Petke countered that the club “filed an 18-page motion spinning convoluted factual and legal arguments that are ultimately untenable because RSL wants to hide its egregious misconduct from the public and a jury by sweeping Mr. Petke’s lawsuit under a rug of arbitration,” according to his counsel’s response.

Former RSL general manager Craig Waibel, who Petke’s counsel claimed was a material witness in the case, left the club Sept. 27.

Real Salt Lake has since replaced Petke with longtime assistant coach, academy director and interim head coach Freddy Juarez. Longtime employee Elliot Fall, who most recently worked as Waibel’s assistant GM, was promoted to general manager, while the club added veteran right back Tony Beltran as an assistant.

RSL's season, along with the rest of Major League Soccer, is currently suspended until mid-June as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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