Ex-MLS Coach Peter Nowak Spanked Players, Ignored Injury Complaints

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union fired coach Peter Nowak in 2012 after getting complaints he hazed rookie players by spanking them so hard it hurt his hand, directed them to run 10 miles in warm weather without water, and was dismissive of concussion injuries, according to newly filed court documents.

Lawyers for the team and Nowak made filings recently as he tries to convince a federal court to overturn an April 2015 arbitrator’s ruling that upheld the dismissal and ordered him to pay the team about $400,000 in legal fees and costs.

“The hazing of rookies, by spanking them, sometimes with a sandal, was completely unacceptable,” arbitrator Margaret Brogan wrote in April. “His description of what he did was quite unnerving, especially when he described how he put his hand in a bucket of ice water to ease his pain, obviously because he was hitting the young people so hard.”

Brogan also found Nowak required injured players to run 10 miles in 80 degree heat, taking water bottles away to toughen them up.

“Nowak created an environment where players felt the need to hide or mask concussions,” the team’s lawyers wrote. “Indeed, the record evidence established that Nowak vilified players who suffered from concussion symptoms.”

Nowak sued the team in July 2012, a month after he was fired, despite a contract that was to pay him through 2015. At that time, the team’s record was 2-7-2.

Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@NYDNSports

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