‘Disgrace’: Pure shock over Aussie bombshell
MATILDAS coach Alen Stajcic has been sacked only months before the Women's World Cup following a damning review of the national team's workplace culture.
Football Federation Australia chairman Chris Nikou and chief executive David Gallop announced the decision at a media conference in Sydney on Saturday. It followed a board meeting on Friday night.
Gallop said the decision was based on the results of two confidential surveys as well as discussions with players and staff.
"The ultimate responsibility for leading the team environment and driving change in culture and environment rests with the head coach. We no longer feel confident Alen is the right person to lead the team and the staff," Gallop said.
"There's definitely some serious findings from the surveys and discussions and a view that things have deteriorated in recent times.
"It's fair to say that workplace issues around the culture of the set-up but it's difficult to go into specifics."
Stajcic was informed of his sacking after being called into FFA headquarters on Saturday morning.
The ABC reported that disharmony between some players and coaching staff had prompted the two-month review.
The bombshell decision rocked the Australian football community. Chief football reporter for The Australian Ray Gatt lashed out at the axing, calling it "shocking" and blaming forces behind the scenes with an axe to grind for dumping Stajcic.
Fox Sports football presenter Adam Peacock also weighed in.
Matildas star Kyah Simon seemed to throw shade at the call, showing support for the man who now won't get the chance to lead the team at the World Cup.
But former Socceroo and A-League goalkeeper Clint Bolton backed the decision to sack Stajcic, hinting he knew things others didn't and suggested he was surprised it took this long for the FFA to punt the coach.
The race is now on to find an interim coach before the inaugural Cup of Nations tournament, which starts at the end of February, and for preparations for the Women's World Cup in France, which starts in June.
Stajcic had been in charge of the Matildas since 2014 after Hesterine de Reus was sacked following a player revolt.
The 45-year-old oversaw runs to the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, as well as a rise to a fourth place in the FIFA rankings. Nikou cancelled a scheduled trip to the UAE to watch the Socceroos take on Syria in an Asian Cup clash on Tuesday.
The Socceroos face Uzbekistan in a round-of-16 clash in Al Ain on Monday and Nikou and Gallop are scheduled to return to the UAE next week. Australia begin their campaign against Italy in Valenciennes on June 9 with Brazil and Jamaica the other teams in their group.