FFA says Australia coach admitted problems before sacking

Football Federation Australia said it had lost faith in women’s coach Alen Stajcic. (AFP pic)

SYDNEY: Football Federation Australia on Monday hit back at sacked Australian women’s football coach Alen Stajcic claims that he was in the dark about his sudden dismissal, saying he had admitted the team environment was “dysfunctional”.

An emotional Stajcic earlier Monday spoke for the first time since he was dumped last month, telling reporters in Sydney he was considering legal action against governing body FFA after his ousting.

“My career is in tatters and my reputation has been ruined,” the 45-year-old said, adding that the decision took him by surprise.

“I still do not know the reasons why my employment was terminated aside from (FFA chief David) Gallop told me that the Matildas had a poor culture and I, as head coach, was responsible.”

The FFA dismissed Stajcic just months before the World Cup, citing concerns over “workplace” and “player welfare” issues following two confidential surveys about the team environment and culture, as well as interviews and other information.

Stajcic said the governing body told him he was terminated “without cause” and that “no actions of misbehaviour or misconduct could be attributed to me”.

“I’ve taken legal advice about these matters which includes potential action on defamation and breach of contractual obligations by the FFA,” he said.

“I’m here today to clear my name… and I’m here to repair what I can of my reputation after having spent 20 years coaching the game.”

Gallop — who has refused to give a detailed explanation about Stajcic’s termination — said Monday in a statement that Stajcic knew “the team environment, contrary to today’s comments, was not satisfactory”.

FFA chairman Chris Nikou added in the same statement that its board disagreed with and were surprised by Stajcic’s claims.

Citing comments made during a meeting between Stajcic, Gallop and an FFA lawyer a day before the sacking, Nikou added that the former coach “said that the team environment was ‘dysfunctional’ and was ‘always going to be this way'”.

“In those circumstances we decided to act in time to put the team’s FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign back on track.

“Our decision to act was driven out of care and concern for our players and people. It was and remains our sole motivation.”

There have been calls for an investigation into the dismissal, and Stajcic backed them, saying there was a lack of clarity, transparency and due process from the FFA.

Several Matildas players took to social media after his removal, saying they were shocked, shattered and disappointed.

Stajcic, who took over as head coach in 2014, guided the Matildas to as high as fourth in the FIFA world rankings in one of their most successful eras.

Gallop said Monday that Stajcic’s replacement would be announced “in the coming weeks”. The FFA had said previously that it wanted a coach in place before the Cup of Nations tournament on home soil ahead of the World Cup.

Local media reported Monday that the FFA was looking overseas for a replacement.

The Cup of Nations will see the Matildas take on Argentina, South Korea and New Zealand in late February and early March.

The women’s World Cup takes place in France in June and July.