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.
The Sydney Morning Herald today claims Gallop told Stajcic last year that: ”They’re out to get you.”
Coincidentally some tweets to new board member Heather Reid in late December and early January seem to foreshadow Stajcic’s removal and his replacement by former Canberra United coach Rae Dower.
Hope you return very soon Mini, ready in time for the Cup of Nations? By then the Matildas off-field issues should be resolved and @Rae10D will be coach. @ehighwood and @Reidyfour will make things for the best as many are unhappy with the current set-up— Lynda Taylor (@LyndaTaylor76) January 4, 2019
There are also suggestions that some factions within football have been keen to settle old scores with Stajcic over past decisions, while others have allegedly seen an opportunity to promote female coaches into the leading role ahead of the World Cup.
Reid responded to the allegations in the Herald, adding: “I have no grudge against Alen Stajcic. To suggest that I have orchestrated his demise and that I’ve influenced the board members is an insult. Not to me, but the whole board.
“I suggest that it's an ugly mess that some people in the media want to push against women of influence.
“Certain people in the game want to ruin the reputation of pioneers like myself and [former director] Moya Dodd and hard-working people like Emma Highwood just to shift the blame somewhere else."
The divide is deepening with every day. The vagueness of the specific allegations against Stajcic and the FFA’s cynical use of his contract clauses to remove him from the post while silencing him should unsettle everyone.
When questioned by FTBL about why the FFA went for summary dismissal rather than counselling or an official warning process, Gallop focused on the FFA's legal rights to act as they had rather than why they hadn't been able to resolve it any other way.
When the previous coach Hesterine de Reus was removed from the post in 2014, hardly anyone batted an eyelid. The disquiet among the squad was obvious. That was not the case with Stajcic. There were no warning signs of that level of unrest.
As one added: “If there were accusations of career-ending bullying, no-one would have needed any surveys…”
While there may have been some minor issues about player selections, tactics and in camp details, none of it appeared even close to a crisis.
None of the allegations FTBL has been told about Stajcic and his staff’s behaviour appear to be beyond solving by adult discussion and at worst counselling, or ultimately, disciplinary proceedings.
As far as we can ascertain, there were no specific complaints against Stajcic himself personally. His greatest failing, if any, was his reaction to the OurWatch survey results, it seems.
Now we again have another flaming dumpster truck of the FFA’s own creation, sowing seeds of division, distracting from both the great growth of the Matildas and also the Socceroos’ Asian Cup campaign.
It can only undermine our bid for the Women’s World Cup in 2023 - but the damage to the public unity in the Matildas is the greatest concern of all.
And it all just seems so utterly unnecessary.
After the World Cup in June, Staj could easily have been moved on and whoever the best person for the job would be, which could well have been one of the very many excellent female women’s coaches in the running, could have taken over.
Instead we have division, suspicion, recriminations and a shadow hanging over whoever does now get the job...while other sporting organisations look on in horror at the way it's been handled.
Good job, FFA.