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Andreas Heraf steps down as New Zealand coach amid player revolt

Change for New Zealand after player revolt

Andreas Heraf resigned from his positions as New Zealand technical director and head coach of the women’s national team on Tuesday following a widespread and public player mutiny.

The Austrian-born Heraf had been head coach since December, when he took over for Tony Readings in what was reportedly a power struggle. In June, New Zealand Football confirmed that 13 Football Ferns players sent letters to the federation stating that they would not play for New Zealand if Heraf remained in charge. Players cited “bullying, intimidation and a culture of fear,” per the New Zealand Herald. Heraf, 50, had been on special leave since then.

News of Heraf’s exit comes one month after chief executive Andy Martin quit.

New Zealand Football president Deryck Shaw said Heraf agreed to take part in a review of the “culture of New Zealand Football.” Shaw said in a statement that “part of the resignation is that Andreas has confirmed that he will fully participate in the review and we will look to the findings of the review to determine the outcomes around this matter.”

The revolt of New Zealand players in June came following a series of incidents, including the aforementioned intimidating behavior on a March trip to Spain and the international retirement  — for the second time in a year — of New Zealand legend Abby Erceg.

“I couldn’t stand to wear that [national symbol] on my chest any more when his vision was to cower in a corner and not get beat by too much,” Erceg told media at the time.

Heraf came under fire for said tactics in a 3-1 loss to Japan in June. In a rare home fixture for the well-traveled Football Ferns, Heraf chose to play his team in a defensive bunker and curiously defended the tactics with what was seen as self-degrading comments. He said New Zealand, ranked No. 20 in the world, “will never have the quality to compete with” Japan, which won the 2011 World Cup. Per the Herald, Heraf in a July interview questioned players’ priorities.

“The players oppose my European style, with high standards and high expectations of professionalism, and prefer a fun and family culture with a focus on making fun videos and opening up to social networking,” he told Austria’s Der Standard.

News of the mass player revolt came just weeks after New Zealand Football had agreed to give its women’s players equal pay to its men’s players.

New Zealand Football said it would begin looking for a new technical director and women’s national team coach following the independent review.

Oceania World Cup qualifying takes place from Nov. 18-Dec.1. New Zealand has taken part in the past three Women’s World Cups, but has never won a game at the tournament proper.


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