Pecorari sued the team in Dallas County Court on Thursday, claiming he coached more than 20 games a season, conducted “countless” training sessions and led the team into the playoffs for each of the past three seasons.
“Tatu played for the Sidekicks in the 1980s. He was the most famous player to ever play for the Sidekicks, and he is arguably the most famous indoor soccer player ever to play the game,” the 9-page complaint states. “For the past 20 years, Tatu has been a prominent, successful soccer coach in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. As a result of his fame as a player and a coach, Tatu was able to attract much media attention and secure significant talent to the Sidekicks in terms of players, coaches and trainers.”
Tatu was inducted into the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011. He is the second-highest indoor goal scorer of all time, with 857 goals. He is famous for his goal celebration, in which he took off his shirt and threw it into the cheering crowd.
Tatu says his fame and reputation drummed up media attention to the 2012 relaunch of the club, now based at the Allen Events Center north of Dallas.
“Moreover, Tatu was largely responsible for attracting the majority of the Sidekicks’ fan base,” the complaint states. “After only three seasons, the Sidekicks has one of the largest home game attendance records of any of the indoor soccer franchises today.”
A part owner in the new Sidekicks, Tatu says, he agreed to a $48,000 annual salary for his first two seasons, then $2,000 per game for his third season, in which he coached eight games. Tatu says he made three appearances for the club, for which he should have been paid $1,000 apiece.
He claims the club has paid him only $6,000 and has broken “numerous promises to pay him” for coaching.
“In fact, the last payment the Sidekicks made to Tatu was on Feb. 14, 2013, just a few days after the team retired Tatu’s jersey in front of a record crowd at the indoor soccer arena,” the complaint states. “As a result of the Sidekicks failure to pay him, Tatu resigned as the head coach. The Sidekicks, however, recognizing the value of Tatu’s name, continue, without Tatu’s permission, to advertise to the public that he is the head coach of the team.”
Tatu was still listed as the Sidekick’s head coach Friday morning on the team website.
Tatu claims the team failed to respond to his request to inspect its books in July.
The Sidekicks’ majority owner, Ronnie Davis, denied owing Tatu $109,000 when reached by The Dallas Morning News on Thursday evening.
Tatu seeks damages for corporate oppression, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. He is represented by Jennifer S. Stoddard with Stoddard Welsh in Dallas.
The Sidekicks first played in Dallas in from 1984 to 2004, playing in four leagues during its run – the Major Indoor Soccer League, Continental Soccer League, World Indoor Soccer League and a second incarnation of MISL.
Played in basketball and hockey arenas instead of football and soccer stadiums, indoor soccer and its smaller playing surface resulted in higher scores and, some thought, more entertaining games. The original Sidekicks reached the playoffs in 16 of 19 seasons. It reached the championship finals eight times, winning league titles four times. The current Sidekicks were admitted into the Professional Arena Soccer League in 2012 as an expansion team.
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