Sacked Australia coach fights to clear name

The sacked coach of the Australian women’s football team has strongly contested his shock dismissal five months before the World Cup.

Football Federation Australia fired Alen Stajcic in January over claims of an “unsatisfactory” team environment.

In his first public comments, Stajcic said he remained “in the dark” over why he was dismissed.

The 45-year-old, who has publicly received support from players, said he was also considering legal action.

Under his five-year tenure, the Matildas reached the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, and ranked as high as fourth in the world governing body Fifa’s ranking.

Officials had based his dismissal on the results of two confidential team surveys which found “workplace culture” and “welfare” issues, and on further player and staff interviews.

On Monday, Stajcic strenuously denied involvement in “any impropriety or misconduct relating to the players”.

He added that despite requests, he had not been given access to the survey’s results and could not respond to accusations.

“I’m here today to clear my name and restore my reputation,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“In 20 years of coaching, I’ve never had an issue around the culture of any single team that I’ve coached, let alone the Matildas… I consider the actions of the FFA to be without foundation and unjustifiable.”

Football Federation Australia is yet to respond to the latest comments.

Strajcic also thanked several squad members for their support, some of whom have expressed dismay on social media.

Shocked/disappointed to hear Staj won’t be taking us to the World Cup in less than 5 months. We’ve been preparing meticulously under him over the last 4yrs to have the best crack to win in France and under his guidance we have been the most successful team in Matildas history. 🇦🇺

End of Twitter post by @KyahSimon

Former Sydney FC Women manager Strajcic joined the Matildas in 2014, succeeding Hesterine de Reus, who was dismissed after a player revolt.

The Matildas, who are now ranked sixth in the world, begin their World Cup campaign against Italy on 9 June, with group games to follow against Brazil and Jamaica.

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