Former Matildas boss Alen Stajcic hits back at Football Federation Australia
Alen Stajcic has called for an independent inquiry into his controversial dismissal as Matildas coach in a bid to restore his damaged reputation.
After issuing a 1,673 word statement early on Monday, an emotional Stajcic held a 40-minute press conference in North Sydney.
He was almost in tears when talking about the the pain the saga has inflicted on his family since his axing three weeks ago over alleged workplace and culture issues.
"By coming here today and presenting my facts and chain of events that have led to my termination, I'm hoping it will [restore my reputation]," Stajcic said.
"Because the speculation and innuendo that I've heard, that 'He must've done something,' is the part that's really ruined my reputation."
The incendiary rebuttal of his departure sets the stage for an FFA board meeting on Monday night, when all facets of the Stajcic saga will come under the light.
Later on Monday, FFA chairman Chris Nikou yielded no ground to Stajcic in a statement, in which he "disagreed with many of his assertions."
An unfortunate arbitration battle looks likely, with Stajcic confirming he has taken legal advice on potential defamation and for breach of contract. Asked whether he would seek re-employment, Stajcic said: "I'm here today to clear my name and restore my reputation. It's not a question for today."
He later admitted to considering if he would remain in coaching in Australia or abroad, and that he received offers last year to take charge of another country.
Stajcic chose not to single out any individuals at FFA, but was firm on his desire for transparency, saying there had been a "lack of due process" and his axing was an "injustice."
"During my time as Matildas head coach (I) 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," he said.
Stajcic had his employment terminated on Jan. 19 by the FFA board due to the alleged development of a "toxic" culture under his leadership.
They formed that view after Matildas players and staff completed anonymous surveys which reportedly suggested an unhealthy environment.
Senior Matildas -- including captains Clare Polkinghorne, Lisa De Vanna and superstar Sam Kerr -- have all praised Stajcic.
Professional Footballers Australia and the Football Coaches Association decried Stajcic's axing, while several prominent coaches called for his reinstatement.
The other bodies that make up the FFA Congress -- state federations, professional clubs and the Women's Football Council -- made their displeasure known publicly and privately.
Incredibly, Stajcic insisted that FFA did not attribute direct blame to him but still showed him the door.
"Up until the day before the FFA terminated my employment I have only ever received praise from [FFA CEO David] Gallop both publicly and privately," he said. "The very first time I met with Mr Gallop about these alleged poor culture issues were on 18 January 2019, at 9.30am.
"Our discussion about the supposed poor culture within the Matildas lasted approximately 20 minutes. Thereafter my employment was terminated the next morning."
Stajcic said he saw the original PFA-FFA survey as "materially and hopelessly flawed."
He also took aim at selective leaks from the survey, which he argued were particularly hurtful to his family.
"While it has broken my heart and spirit to think I am no longer on that journey that I shared with so many for such a long time, I will continue to follow the Matildas; both individually and a team," he said. "I truly wish to see Australia take its rightful place on the world football stage and believe this team can do it.
"For now, I look forward to the search for truth, honour and integrity in this awful saga. I concur with others who are demanding a full and independent investigation."