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P. LEAGUE+ & T1 LEAGUE/Lioneers sue Mars in 1st cross-league lawsuit in Taiwan basketball

09/07/2023 11:23 PM
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Taiwanese basketball player Lin Ping-sheng (left) plays during a William Jones Cup game in Taipei Aug. 18, 2023 CNA file photo
Taiwanese basketball player Lin Ping-sheng (left) plays during a William Jones Cup game in Taipei Aug. 18, 2023 CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 7 (CNA) The Hsinchu Jko Lioneers in the P.LEAGUE+ (PLG) filed a lawsuit against the Taipei Taishin Mars in the T1 LEAGUE and player Lin Ping-sheng (林秉聖) following abortive negotiations hosted by the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association Wednesday.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Lioneers said the franchise took legal action that afternoon to protect its rights as a result of the Mars' inconsistent attitude and Lin's failure to attend Monday's negotiations.

The lawsuit against the Taishin franchise includes violation of the Fair Trade Act and the Civil Code for wrongfully damaging the rights of another jointly, the Lioneers said.

The lawsuit is the first filed by a ballclub from one of the two pro leagues in Taiwan against a team in the other league since the establishment of the T1 LEAGUE in 2021.

The association, which supervises all basketball events in Taiwan, said the two teams and Lin were unable to reach an agreement Monday and gave them two days to think.

However, the association later said it was unable to bridge the gap between the three parties, who could still not reach an agreement Wednesday, adding that it respects any decision by one of the parties involved to seek legal redress.

In addition, the association added that it is scheduled to introduce an athlete agent system on Jan. 1, 2024, in a bid to avoid similar disputes in the future.

This is the latest development in a series of conflicts involving the Lioneers, Mars and Lin that started in mid-August, when two teams from two separate leagues claimed to have signed the former New Taipei CTBC DEA guard.

A complaint filed by the Hsinchu Jko Lioneers
A complaint filed by the Hsinchu Jko Lioneers' to sue Lin and the Taipei Taishin Mars is pictured outside the Taipei District Court on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Hsinchu Jko Lioneers Sept. 6, 2023

The Lioneers made public a picture of a contract with Lin's signature inked around early June, but at a press conference held on Aug. 24 to mark the establishment of the Mars, a new team in the T1 LEAGUE, the club seemed to imply the earlier contract was invalid.

On that occasion, President of Taishin International Bank Oliver Shang (尚瑞強) reiterated that Lin is a Mars player and urged the Lioneers to sit down with Lin to address the issue if they want to avoid legal action.

The association attracted much criticism following its statement that it has been unable to resolve the issue, but senior commentator Chen Kai (陳楷) said the association does not have any legal authority to rule on the case.

When asked to comment on the situation, a senior commentator Chen, said the two franchises are on different pages.

Whereas the Lioneers have slammed the Mars for player poaching and argue that the entire case has its roots in the unwholesome way the industry operates, the Mars insists it is a conflict between the Lioneers and Lin and deny poaching, Chen told CNA Thursday.

It is not difficult to understand why the association wants to roll out the new athlete agent system, Chen said, because a professional sports agent would be less likely to make the same mistake as Lin did, referring to the player signing for two teams.

However, that solution fails to tackle the key issue given that Lin, who used to have an agent, is by no means the only athlete to have ever signed contracts without an agent, Chen said.

David Robertson in the Major League Baseball (MLB) and Jaylen Brown in the National Basketball Association (NBA) are two examples.

In Chen's opinion, more comprehensive rules and regulations are needed, but he also indicated that it would be hard for the two independent leagues to reach a consensus on the issue.

As the 2023-24 season approaches and the Lioneers sue the Mars and Lin, Chen said the case could go in multiple directions, and Lin may be unable to play for a period of time even if he does not have to suit up as a Lioneer.

(By Chao Yen-hsiang)


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