Australia

'My career is in tatters': Sacked Matildas coach Stajcic speaks out over dismissal

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Alen Stajcic says he 'remains in the dark' on why he was sacked as Matildas coach three weeks ago.

Sacked Matildas coach Alen Stajcic said he has sought legal advice on suing the Football Federation of Australia over his termination. 

"The events over the last few weeks have devastated both me and my family," he said in a press conference on Monday morning - his first public remarks on his sacking.

"My career is in tatters and my reputation is now in ruins."

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19 January: Matildas in disarray after coach Alen Stajcic sacked
19 January: Matildas in disarray after coach Alen Stajcic sacked

The FFA has repeatedly refused to details specific reasons for the removal of Stajcic, which came after two confidential surveys.

"I came here today to clear my name and restore my reputation," he said of his 20-year coaching career. 

"(This decision to take potential legal action is) due to the firestorm that has erupted due to the lack of transparency that was offered, due to the nature of the comments - both public and private - that were offered by the board directors, more than one, (that have) just added to the speculation."

Stajcic's dismissal was announced by the FFA on January 19. At the time, FFA chief executive David Gallop cited one of the factors in the decision being the findings of two confidential surveys with players and staff. 

One survey was conducted by the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), and the other was carried out by women's rights group Our Watch. 

Stajcic said the news came as a surprise to him, with the first notice of the dismissal coming at the end of a 9.30am meeting on January 18. The meeting ran for 20 minutes. The next morning, the termination was made official.

He said despite repeated requests to get more information for the reason for the dismissal, little was forthcoming. 

"I was terminated without cause. Two, there were no actions or behaviours that could be attributed to me."

"And if I could add a little bit to that, I saw a tweet from board director Joseph Carrozzi saying there is no smoking gun, so that's all I can say."

Stjacic said he got access to the PFA report in December and he has several criticisms to make.

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21 January: FFA boss meets Matildas after Stajcic axe
21 January: FFA boss meets Matildas after Stajcic axe

"I questioned the validity, reliability and integrity of the results on multiple occasions."

He said he was shocked when the only explanation was provided in the last minute of the 20-minute meeting.

"There was no substance at all," he said.

"I was told the Matildas had a poor culture and I was responsible as head coach."

He said his attempts to get more details were rebuffed and he was told no further information would be forthcoming due to confidentiality.

Former Matildas' head coach Alan Stajcic (right) is joined by Football Coaches Australia President Phil Moss.
Former Matildas' head coach Alan Stajcic (right) is joined by Football Coaches Australia President Phil Moss.
AAP

"I remain in the dark," he said. 

"There has been a lack of clarity, transparency and there's certainly been a lack of due process."

He said three weeks after the sacking he is still confounded by the dismissal, considering he had only ever received praise from David Gallop.

He said he is comforted by the 18 players who have publicly issued statements of support, and the 25 players who have privately messaged him with words of support.

He said the Our Watch survey did not turn up anything directly linked to him.

"Whatever was in that (Our Watch) survey was not attributed to me."

He said he has never in his 20-year coaching career been accused of being responsible for "poor culture" issues prior to this incident. 

In fact, he said during his five-year tenure he had brought on two permanent staffers to assist with daily feedback on player wellbeing.

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19 January: Matildas coach departs months before World Cup
19 January: Matildas coach departs months before World Cup

"But the most pressing issue for me in the short-term is the damage that has been done by the speculation and innuendo; and the part I couldn't control over the last three weeks.

"That has been really hurtful, considering I've spent 20 years coaching. To be in this position is something that I never thought I would be in."

In the days after Stajcic's sacking, two assistant coaches quit - Paul Jones and Nahuel Arrarte.

A global search is underway for the new Matildas coach, which the FFA hopes to install in time for the Cup of Nations tournament beginning in Sydney on February 28.

A four-person panel will be responsible for selecting Stajcic's replacement - FFA's national teams' boss Luke Casserly, ex-Matilda Julie Murray, Australian women's cricket coach Matthew Mott and AIS executive Darlene Harrison - will make a recommendation to the FFA board.

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