WILKES-BARRE — A Manchester City soccer player has filed suit against two area attorneys, alleging they received more compensation than agreed upon for his likeness and image.
According to a suit filed in Luzerne County Court:
Nigerian-born Kelechi Iheanacho, a striker for Manchester City, of the Premier League, was falsely trusted into signing over rights to his name to area attorneys Robert Zanicky, of Drums, and Raymond Hassay, of Exeter.
Iheanacho, 20, met Zanicky in early 2013, when he was 16, after Zanicky approached him following the 2013 African Under 17 Championships. An agreement was signed in late July 2013 by Zanicky and Iheanacho’s father. The contract, which was signed for $1,000, enabled Zanicky, Hassay and their combined venture, First Eleven Management, in Wilkes-Barre, image rights to Iheanacho.
When Iheanacho turned 18, Zanicky convinced the striker to sign another contract that turned over 100 percent of his image rights to RHRZ LLC and Team Kelechi LLC, based in Pittston.
“The assignment governs all of Kelechi’s image rights, defined to include all legal and beneficial rights and goodwill stemming from Kelechi’s name, nickname, initials, autograph, caricature, reputation and endorsements,” the lawsuit states. It also prohibited Iheanacho from signing with another party for the use of his image or likeness.
First Eleven, acting as Team Kelechi’s “exclusive agent” was able to market, sell or licenses Kelechi’s image. Images licensed out garnered First Eleven 20 percent of the gross revenue. The duo also would receive 50 percent compensation from RHRZ LLC.
At the time their first contact was agreed upon, Iheanacho said, he was not aware of Zanicky’s suspension from the practice of law after pleading no contest to two counts of corruption of minors. According to Times Leader records, Zanicky, who was president of the United Soccer Training Academy, was charged in 2011 with corrupting the morals of two girls, who were 16 and 17 at the time.
Iheanacho is asking the courts to dissolve the contract between First Eleven LLC, RHRZ LLC, Hassay, Zanicky and Iheanacho. He also is seeking punitive damages and attorneys fees and expenses.
Neither Zanicky nor Hassay could be reached for comment Friday evening.
Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko.