Less than five months out from the 2019 World Cup, and only a little over five weeks till the Nations Cup, the Matildas coach Alen Stajcic has been sacked.

The shock announcement was foreshadowed by both Ray Gatt in The Australian and Dominic Bossi in Fairfax papers this morning, and subsequently picked-up by a range of media outlets. No-one realised that it was an employment termination by FFA, with some speculating that he was moving immediately to another, higher-paying role.

FFA's decision was announced by FFA Chairman, Chris Nikou and CEO, David Gallop in Sydney today.

Nikou and Gallop said the decision comes after a review of the Matildas in which they conducted confidential surveys of players and staff around the environment and culture of the team.

National team audits had been previously suggested by the PFA, and FFA opted to start with the Matildas.

Gallop was questioned whether Stajcic's sacking was related to the “#MeToo movement”. He responded by reiterating that the sacking was related to 'environment and culture' and about giving the team every opportunity to perform at its full potential.

In light of both Nikou's and Gallop's demeanour, and the apparent stealth and swiftness with which Stajcic's sacking was effected, it will be difficult to subdue speculation on this point. However, the fact that Stajcic was sacked, rather than resigned, suggests also that this is not the case and Stajcic may have more to say at some stage.

In a written statement, Gallop said that FFA no longer had confidence that Stajcic was the “right person to lead the team and staff”.

“The ultimate responsibility for driving change and leading a high-performance environment that puts the team in the best possible position to achieve what they are capable of, rests with the Head Coach,” Gallop said.

FFA will continue to “monitor the Matildas environment in the coming weeks and months”, with a leadership and culture workshop to be held next week. 

The dismissal of Stajcic was welcomed by some with former Matildas great, Joey Peters, tweeting before the announcement that Stajcic had “reached his ceiling” and the Matildas were too predictable. 

On the other hand, some from the playing group expressed surprise and disappointment with Kyah Simon tweeting that the Matildas had enjoyed success for the past four years under Stajcic's guidance. 

Stajcic was brought into the role as Matildas coach after an alleged player 'revolt' had forced out Hesterine de Reus in April 2014, less than one month before their defence of the Asian Cup. There is some speculation that Stajcic's sacking is again in response to player pressure, but Gallop denied this stating that it was a mangement decision based on the outcome of the confidential surveys.

The departure of Stajcic five months ahead of France 2019 follows Ange Postecoglou's departure from the Socceroos seven months prior to the Russia 2018 World Cup. While Postecoglou resigned, speculation continues that he was pushed from inside after developments with the national team set-up with which he was not happy. 

Matildas' forthcoming friendlies:

  • 28 February v New Zealand
  • 3 March v South Korea
  • 6 March v Argentina
  • 5 April v USA (in USA)

Categories: News | People | Women

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