Former Australia women’s national team coach Alen Stajcic has responded to his firing for the first time in a first-person letter released on Monday morning, Australian time. He wrote that his “termination was without cause,” and he is considering potential legal action against Football Federation Australia on the grounds of defamation and breach of contract.
Stajcic was shockingly fired on Jan. 19 following survey results of players and staff that led “the FFA to determine that the team environment is unsatisfactory and that a change in leadership is required to improve the culture.” Stajcic had been in charge of the Matildas since 2014 and guided them to the country’s first senior World Cup knockout-round victory at the 2015 World Cup, defeating Brazil in the round of 16.
“The events of the last few weeks have devastated both me and my family,” Stajcic wrote. “My career is in tatters and my reputation has been ruined.”
Several Australian players expressed public shock at the firing of Stajcic, who in his letter on Monday said he still has not been given a concrete reason for his firing. According to Stajcic, he was briefed by FFA chief executive David Gallop about the Matildas’ alleged “poor culture” in a 20-minute meeting on Jan. 18. He was fired the next morning.
“For the record,” Stajcic wrote, “I wish to state categorically that, during my time as Matildas head coach – such tenure which commenced in 2014 – I have never witnessed, never participated in, and never acquiesced to the participation of others in any impropriety or misconduct relating to players or the Matildas set-up. The explanation proffered by FFA for my dismissal was;
i) termination without cause;
ii) that no actions or behaviours of misconduct could be attributed to me;
iii) the FFA CEO’s assertion that the Matilda’s had a ‘poor culture.'”
Stacjic continued: “Mr Gallop referred to these other surveys, and information apparently available to the FFA, in the final few minutes of our meeting on 18 January 2019. However, I was provided with absolutely no specific information or detail about what he was talking about. I was left in an impossible position where I could not respond to anything which had been referred to, because I received no specific notice of what I might need to answer.”
Stajcic said that he could not make public statements until now for legal reasons, and that he felt he needed to make a statement “to protect my reputation in the face of unwarranted speculation from various sources.”
EXTRA: Where are all the female coaches? Still navigating an unequal landscape
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