Two years after dumping controversial Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf, New Zealand Football has closed ranks amid another player-led storm.
New Zealand Football may be on the brink of another mutiny as the country's male Olympic team fears the governing body is preparing to dump successful coach Des Buckingham.
The 'OlyWhites' squad, which qualified for Tokyo under Buckingham, has taken the dramatic step of writing an all-squad letter to New Zealand Football (NZF) in the hope of keeping the group together.
The letter, which has not been made public until now, confronts NZF over its coaching plans during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
Like most sports, NZF is having to take stock of its programs and finances during the COVID-19 crisis, which has led to the cancellation of June's Oceania Nations Cup in New Zealand.
In the absence of training or matches, NZF programs have been suspended and coaches stood down.
That includes OlyWhites assistants Hiroshi Miyazawa and Mark Oates, who have reportedly been told they won't have jobs to return to.
In their group letter, OlyWhites players say that decision "disappointed" them and made them "concerned ... particularly if Des Buckingham's role may be in jeopardy".
The OlyWhites refer to their setup as a "whanau" - the Maori word for family.
"We have 24 NZ International age group players read and support this letter. All of whom have worked with Des and are part of the current U23 cycle," it states.
"We appreciate the 100s, if not 1000s of hours Des has put into not only creating this culture, but also developing individual players as footballers and as people.
"We hope a solution can be found to keep the whanau together to continue the success we have had."
In response to the claims, NZF said in a statement it was "not able to comment on individual employment matters".
"We are currently working through the situation to ensure both the Football Ferns and U-23 men have the best possible preparation ahead of the new dates for the Olympics," the statement said.
The stand-downs appear at odds with a government pledge to maintain funding levels for Olympic programs for an additional year to help sports continue through to the rescheduled Olympics.
NZF has also received $288,213 on behalf of 41 employees from the government as part of its wage subsidy program.
Asked whether it had received funding for any coaches that it had stood down, NZF chose not to comment.
Buckingham also led the under-20 national side at last year's World Cup in Poland, beating a Norway team that included global sensation Erling Haaland en route to the knockout rounds.
A cost-cutting alternative for NZF would be to hand the reins to current All Whites boss, former New Zealand captain Danny Hay, who beat Buckingham to that post last year.
The player-administrator spat comes just two years after the acrimonious sacking of national women's team boss Andreas Heraf amid bullying claims by senior Football Ferns.
That saga, which also saw the departure of chief executive Andy Martin, resulted in a major cultural review.