BRISBANE: Australian football chiefs Thursday ruled out any review into the controversial sacking of national women’s coach Alen Stajcic, as his successor Ante Milicic said the team must move on with the World Cup looming.
Milicic was appointed on Monday to take the Matildas, ranked six in the world, through to the World Cup in France this year after Stajcic was suddenly dumped last month over concerns about workplace culture and “player welfare”.
Stajcic has threatened legal action against Football Federation Australia, saying his career was “in tatters” following the still unexplained dismissal.
But FFA chief executive David Gallop ruled out any review or inquiry into the decision-making process.
“The board has said they have made a decision. There won’t be a review of the decision,” he said at a press conference alongside Milicic.
“While we accept that the termination of the previous coach has been frustrating and painful for many people, there were, and remain, clear legal and ethical reasons for our approach,” he said.
The sacking followed two surveys about the team environment and culture and Gallop refused to elaborate on why Stajcic was dismissed, citing confidentiality.
But he acknowledged the decision was not ideal ahead of a major tournament like the World Cup.
“You don’t take a decision to change coaches unless you’ve got good reason … this has been particularly difficult. I acknowledge that” he said.
Milicic, who was the Socceroos assistant coach at two men’s World Cups under Ange Postecoglou in 2014 and Bert van Marwijk in 2018, said he was only interested in looking forward.
“I go back to the fact it is in the past and we have to move forward … coaches come and go,” he said, speaking for the first time since being installed.
“My job is to focus on what is in front of me and what I can control.”
Milicic said he didn’t see any problems with moving from coaching men to women.
“It’s a transition I’m very comfortable with. You speak about the men’s game, the women’s game but the rules are the same, it’s 11 versus 11, it’s 90 minutes,” he said.
“I’m not the first coach that’s come from the men’s side to the women’s.”
His first task is guiding Australia at the Cup of Nations in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne starting next week. The tournament also features New Zealand, South Korea and Argentina.