VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – A broomball sports equipment company claims in court that the president of the International Federation of Broomball Associations excluded it from sponsoring a tournament for refusing to pay exorbitant fees.
Broomball, like hockey, is played on ice, but with a ball instead of a puck, with shoes instead of skates, and players use modified sticks with heads that look like brooms. Originally, they used real brooms.
Acacia Sports Canada Inc. and its U.S. counterpart Acacia Sports sued the International Federation of Broomball Associations and its president Rick Przybysz on Sept. 19 in British Columbia Supreme Court.
Acacia claims that Przbysz began “demanding” that companies pay a fee for membership in the association beginning in 2008. It says it paid the fees “despite having reservations about the propriety of the payment of the membership fees.”
Acacia since 2008 has been a sponsor of the World Broomball, “the world’s largest broomball tournament” held every two years.
“Due to the high profile of the World Broomball Championship and the concentration of broomball enthusiasts that gather for the tournament, they are a great opportunity for sponsors to showcase their products, foster business relationships and reach new markets,” the complaint states. “Accordingly, sponsorship of the World Broomball Championship is an integral part of the plaintiffs’ business plans and drives significant sales growth.”
Before the 2010 tournament, Acacia claims, Przybysz offered to make it an exclusive sponsor for $50,000, but Acacia “refused to pay this exorbitant amount.”
Przbysz then offered an exclusive sponsorship deal for $14,000, which would cover travel expenses for Przybysz and his wife to attend the tournament, held in Austria that year, Acacia says. When Acacia refused again, it says, Przybysz “threatened to ensure that Acacia Canada’s business did not succeed if his demands for payment were not met.”
So, Acacia says, it decided not to sponsor any event that involved the IFBA president and founder, and suffered losses when it didn’t participate in the 2010 tournament. However, in 2012, when the tournament was held in Ottawa, Ontario, Acacia says it was an “unqualified success,” in part because Przybysz was not allowed to “interfere” with the event by its host committee.
“The financial success enjoyed by the plaintiffs at the 2012 World Broomball Championship amply demonstrate that the plaintiffs could operate a very profitable business in the absence of Przybysz’s unlawful actions,” the complaint states.
Now, Acacia says, Przybysz is thwarting its efforts to sponsor the 2014 championship, scheduled for November in Japan.
Acacia seeks an injunction “restraining the defendants from engaging in any activity that interferes in any way with the plaintiff’s business interests,” and damages for unlawful interference and loss of opportunity.
Acacia is represented by John C. Fiddick with Whitelaw Twining Law Corp. in Vancouver.
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