Motor Madness

Chaos reigned in Lublin over the weekend, where an incident involving Motor coach Gonçalo Feio and club president Paweł Tomczyk, after the club’s win over GKS Jastrzębie, sparked headlines across the country.

Despite the 2-1 win, the pair’s rapidly deteriorating relationship spectacularly disintegrated as the Portuguese coach is reported to have thrown a document tray at the president, which opened a significant wound on the head of the 41-year-old and left him needing hospital treatment.

Interestingly, the pair both have worked together in the past; and it is reported that their cooperation at current Ekstraklasa leaders Raków Częstochowa was part of the reason for Motor hiring the pair back in September, with the club sitting bottom. Of the 2.Liga.

The rapid breakdown in relations reportedly came to a head recently, with Tomczyk claiming that 33-year-old Feio had insulted the club’s spokesperson, Paulina Maciążek. Upon learning that Maciążek wouldn’t be accompanying Feio in the press conference following Sunday’s victory, the former Benfica, Legia Warsaw, and Wisła Kraków youth coach began his violent outburst.

Following the incident, the head of the club’s supervisory board issued a statement that mentioned Feio’s “reprehensible behaviour”, and commented on his “vulgar” reference to the spokesperson, while confirming that he had “in the presence of other people, kicked the desk and threw a tray for documents at the president.”

Upon hearing of the clash between Feio and Tomczyk, Motor fans immediately jumped to the defence of their coach. They gathered in front of the stadium, chanting the Portuguese’s name. Results on the pitch since his arrival have been vastly improved, and the club have lost just once in ten league games (winning six and drawing three) and were only knocked out of the Puchar Polski by Raków. He also garnered fans’ favour by taking aim at Tomczyk’s handling of club affairs, and notably the increased pricing of tickets for the game against Raków.

It also must be said that the latest incident is not the first time that Feio’s hot-headedness and unacceptable behaviour has caused problems. There have been several other alleged instances of the coach’s violence toward others. Whilst a coach at Wisła Kraków, he is said to have yelled and spat at a security guard who refused to let him enter a VIP area without his identification. He also allegedly was booted out of Raków after a fight with a team manager, and was also involved in a scuffle with the goalkeeper coach at Lech Poznań.

In a lower position, it may have been far easier to gloss over those events; but the latest incident quickly blew up to a point where it could not be covered up. When a press conference was announced for Monday, and Feio himself confirmed that he wouldn’t be attending, all signs pointed to the Portuguese being dismissed from his role.

However, what actually happened perhaps defies belief.

The conference was led by Motor Lublin’s owner, Zbigniew Jakubas. The 70-year-old billionaire confirmed that Feio would not be removed from his position, and instead, Tomczyk would be suspended for three months.

Gonçalo Feio stays. When I hired him, I used to say three times a charm. If I fail with him, it will be the end of my existence in Lublin. As long as he is there, so will I be. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

“[he is an] extremely competent, hard worker. After our several-hour meeting, I knew emotionally that with this man we are able to go far. I can only speak of him in superlatives. In my opinion, this situation is the result of overwork . Coach Feio works 20 hours a day. In such a situation, a person is explosive, he can’t stand certain things. Ambition, pressure – it all together caused this explosion.”

Zbigniew Jakubas, Motor Lublin owner

Jakubas also compared the relationship between Feio and Tomczyk to ‘a marriage’, and that “sometimes marriages escalate and become aggressive.” But although he conceded that the coach “exploded, and it never should have happened“, no action is to be taken against the coach.

Feio himself has tried to show some remorse for the incident, but given his past, it is hard to know how genuine that remorse actually is. “My behavior was reprehensible,” he told the press conference that he had previously declared his intention not to attend. “I let bad emotions overshadow what should be the most important thing – respect for other people. Sorry. I emphasize that I condemn all forms of violence, no man is entitled to aggression against others.”

For her own role as the alleged victim in the incident, Jakubas also confirmed that spokesperson Maciążek would also be removed from her position, citing a ‘lack of chemistry’ with the coach. He did, however, confirm that another position would be found for her within the club – one which avoids contact with Feio. “I value her very much, the only person who always answers the phoneHowever, in a large club, there are a lot of functions – they do not have to see each other and love each other.”

However, Jakubas’ stance does not mean that Feio will be absolved of all responsibility for his actions. The PZPN may deem it fit to suspend the coach’s license, while he also risks being expelled from the UEFA Pro Course which he is currently due to complete in January 2024. The PZPN have confirmed that they are investigating the matter, and that the Disciplinary Committee will deal with the case on Thursday (9 March). “The coach is at risk of disqualification“, the Disciplinary spokesman Adam Gilarski told SportoweFakty.

After their poor start to the season under Stanisław Szpyrka, Motor Lublin now sit six points and two positions outside the 2 Liga play-offs, with 13 games remaining.

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