The damage done by the FFA’s rush to axe Alen Stajcic goes far beyond the destruction of his reputation and career – and even beyond the divide it’s apparently creating in the Matildas.
It threatens to create a gender war in Australian football which had been uniting as one behind the Matildas, our most exciting, successful and also most personable national team.
Sam Kerr has won over the world with her performances, and the bravery shown by Hayley Raso’s fight to return from a back broken in three places in just a matter of months has inspired everyone.
When once the Matildas were lucky to attract anyone beyond family and friends to their matches, now 15,000 or more will turn out to see them in action.
Every time they play, there is optimism and excitement - qualities rarely seen in any of our other national teams, especially in men’s sport these days.
And then this happened.
A PFA survey went out to 32 Matildas in camp in November and identified concerns over workloads with one mention of skin folds testing and the routine weighing in and out of players at training, which was considered body-shaming.
They also voiced some concerns about pressure being put on them and the supportive environment of the squad.
The results of the survey were given to the FFA in early December and apparently reviewed by Stajcic and the head of woman’s football, Emma Highwood.
They scheduled this week’s Matildas workshop in Sydney to discuss the findings, among other things as part of routine non-ball coaching.
“There was nothing in that report that would have led to the subsequent sacking of the coach,” said one who has seen the survey findings.
“It was a high performance, well-being audit that threw up a few minor issues that could be routinely dealt with at the players’ workshop.
“This did not sound any alarm bells with anyone.”
The survey results were delivered to the FFA in early December after CEO John Didiluca and his deputy and former Matilda Kate Gill returned from a trip to the FIFPro conference in Rome.
A few days later however, at the FFA’s December 12 meeting of the newly elected board, a question was apparently asked about what the culture is like in the Matildas – and issues raised in the survey were discussed.