Real Salt Lake part ways with GM Craig Waibel
Real Salt Lake’s internal situation continues to worsen.
On Friday, the club announced it parted ways with general manager Craig Waibel. The decision comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed by former coach Mike Petke, which references a conversation in which Waibel was critical of RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen and admitted that he was resigning from the club at the end of the season.
“I would like to thank Dell Loy Hansen for the opportunities presented to me over the past six years,” Waibel said a statement released by the club. “During this time, I have experienced an incredible amount of personal and professional growth and I am proud of the work we have accomplished. While I am stepping away to take some time to evaluate the next step in my career, I want to wish Dell Loy, the locker room, and most importantly, the fans nothing but the best in their pursuit of the 2019 MLS Cup.”
This week, Petke and his attorneys filed a complaint to a Salt Lake County district court indicating that the MLS team breached the 43-year-old’s contract when he was fired in August days after shouting a homophobic slur in Spanish at a Panamanian official in Leagues Cup play. Within the lawsuit, a conversation Petke, Waibel and Rob Zarkos, executive vice president of soccer operations, was revealed.
Waibel is quoted telling Petke: “Thank you, I am exhausted, confused, emotionally spent, and disappointed that this is the only thing that makes sense. I have always known where the issues in this organization are born ... and I have never once believe[d] that anything last year was created by you or I as individuals. This is [the toughest] work environment in Major League Soccer without a doubt.”
In the conversation, per the lawsuit, Petke and Waibel are described to have exchanged text messages regarding whether or not the former coach would resign and take the $75,000 in severance pay, or to deny the option and be fined. When Petke asked if him calling Hansen, who was filmed saying he was considering firing Petke before the official announcement, would make a difference, Waibel responded: “He [Hansen] won’t pick up. Refuses to be the bad guy.”
On the same statement released by the team on Friday, Hansen thanked Waibel for his contributions to the organization.
“I appreciate Craig coming to Real Salt Lake for the 2014 season as part of the coaching staff,” Hansen said in a statement. “Craig oversaw the organization’s integration of the Real Monarchs, Utah Royals FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, and the relocation and expansion of the Real Salt Lake Academy, which now trains and plays at the Zions Bank Training Center in Herriman, Utah. Craig has been instrumental in the Club’s rapid growth and I wish him success in the future.”
Longtime club employee and assistant GM Elliot Fall was named interim GM, while the club “Immediately” searches for a replacement. Zarkos, despite being mentioned in the lawsuit, will remain in his position.
With 47 points and two games left in the regular season, Real Salt Lake are a win away from clinching playoffs.