I have set up this GoFundMe for a dear friend of mine, Mirjana Djuric, who is being wronged by her previous club in Poland. She is owed money, and she has been fighting, but the organizations that usually help us Professional Volleyball Players have turned a blind eye. To understand the situation, please read Mirjana's statement below. These are tough times, any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated! :)
I need your help.
I never thought I would be in this position, but here I am… In the season 2017-2018 I played in Poland for a club named Wisla Warszawa. I loved the team from the get-go, the coaches and supporting staff were great, there was just one problem – the club president, Gregorz Kulikowski. He is your typical egoistic megalomaniac who believes that just because he has money, he can do with people (especially his players) any way he pleases.
Problems started as soon as I got there. My contract wasn’t what I expected it to be, he changed the arranged agreements to suit him, controlled every aspect of my (and other player’s) lives, threatened, insulted and harassed almost all of us. There was instances when he insinuated weird things, walked into our hotel rooms unannounced, threatened to kick us off the team, send me home if I didn’t perform better (this was basically a weekly occurrence, even though I was the MVP of 5 out of 18 games and started in 17 out of 18 matches), insulted girl’s looks, weight, make-up (the untold rule of the team was that we had to play in make-up because he “wanted to have the prettiest team in the league), threatened to not pay our rent, etc. The team fought with all our might to keep our heads up and fight through the season with all of this negativity, and we were able to play in the finals to go to the Super league, unfortunately we lost the play offs and this is when the real nightmare began.
We finished the season mid-April 2018, and he has already owed me my bonuses (2 x 4,000 euros) and last two month salaries (2 x 2,000euros), like he did the rest of the team as well. We had our rent paid until the end of the month, and I was ready to wait for as long as it took to get it before I head home. At this point, I haven’t left Poland in 8 months and I haven’t seen any of my family during that time. When first of May came around, he told me that he will not pay for my next months rent, but he will definitely pay me as soon as he gets some money that he has been waiting for. Since he didn’t pay me on a regular basis throughout the season (he would give me handouts basically, 500-800 euros at a time), I had no money to spare for the rent, and being already super homesick and having had enough of everything at that point, I decided, against my better judgement, to go home. Poland has such an incredible and long volleyball history, I was sure that I would get paid in the next few months, and he will not be able to get away with not paying me. Two years later, I have to hire a lawyer and take him to court to get my money…
After a few attempts to collect what he owed me, after contacting Polish volleyball federation several times and being completely ignored by both, I decided to take matters into my own hands and file a disclaimer against him to FIVB and CEV (these are international volleyball federation and central European federation for volleyball, two biggest entities in the volleyball world). I was told I need to pay 400 euros fee in order to start the proceedings against the club and the president. When I was finally able to loan this money and start the process, it was already November of 2018, and the club Wisla was already playing the next season, with Polish Federation completely ignoring the fact that the president owed money to ALL the girls and ALL the staff for at least two months.
The CEV made the decision that the club has to pay me in February 2019. The club refused, claiming all kinds off nonsense in order to get extensions, which they were able to do, and CEV kept postponing to enforce punishment on the team (blocking of international player’s transfers) until 6 months after that. The club was able to get 3 international players on the team before the block kicked in, so they trained and played practice games, but they were unable to play the regular season, and once the block started, they basically lost the season because they were forced to stay on the team by him (one of the girls who is a Brazilian, collected her things one day and just left, didn’t even tell the president that she was leaving. This shows how much respect players had for this man). He went on the news, gave statements in the newspapers, had internet interviews where he lied and acted a victim, like I didn’t want to get paid, or he couldn’t legally pay me, basically had a hate campaign against me. It didn’t work, but unfortunately, instead of paying me in the end, the president opted for playing without international players, and lost every single game by the end of the season. This is when CEV and FIVB lost all power over him and didn’t have any other way of making him pay me and other players, and Polish federation ignored the situation because he paid all his dues to him in time.
Which brings us to my situation now. I am forced to hire a lawyer and take him to court. The lawyer I am working with suggested to work for free until we win the case, but we still need money to start the proceedings. She estimated the original cost to be around $2,000 with the possibility of it rising to $3,000 by the end. I of course don’t have this money, which he was planning on from the beginning. If I have any other way to do this, I would. Unfortunately, like I said, the salaries in Serbia are horrific, and I wouldn’t be able to loan the money from anyone I know, since this would be a year’s worth of paychecks. My good friend Brooke Seaman agreed to help me and make a GoFundMe account in my name. I know that the current situation in the world is dire and every penny counts, but I pray that this will be something that you can help me with, without hurting your and your family’s financial situation.
Thank you all in advance, and I hope that you are staying safe."