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The sacking, a subsequent apology and a hamstrung FFA compliance committee

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Expert
12th June, 2019
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I am curious as to what Alen Stajcic made of the Matildas’ shock loss to Italy in their opening match of the Women’s World Cup in France.

While it might be contemporary and inflammatory to picture him, bourbon in hand, seething and spitting at the television hoping his former charges were beaten, it is hard to believe.

The idea of Stajcic venting and hoping for some Matilda misfortune that would raise further doubt around his questionable dethroning as their mentor just doesn’t seem to fit his character or reputation.

Quite the opposite. No doubt Stajcic cheered the team on with as much passion and vigour as he did when he was at the helm. The reason? Quite simply, he is a good man and one who cares deeply about the young women he once led.

Sadly, that level of care and concern was not afforded him by his employer and the murky details of the decision to remove him from the national post have come to light.

Despite FFA Board member Heather Reid’s early assertions that people would be “shocked” by the reasons behind his dismissal and claims he would never work in women’s football again should those reasons become common knowledge, Stajcic’s reputation has remained somewhat intact.

Alen Stajcic

Alen Stajcic (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

That’s partly because Reid has apologised for her unfounded comments, although she’s stopped short of explaining why they were actually expressed in the first place.

As in all workplaces, that raises compliance issues. The internal processes of organisations need to be well oiled, efficient, legal and effective in allowing fair and appropriate decisions to be made.

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Stajcic’s dismissal and the subsequent apology from Reid raise serious questions about whether the mechanisms at work within the FFA have produced a legitimate, legal and just outcome for all involved.

Thankfully, an internal compliance committee exists within the halls of football’s governing body. It was created after FIFA’s involvement in the governance review that took place in 2018.

The chairman of that committee is Greg Griffin.

No doubt seeking finality around the entire saga by ensuring that the board had indeed acted appropriately in its dealings with Stajcic, it appears Griffin requested relevant “board minutes, papers and any legal advice” used.

Apparently, his request was denied.

The Australian broke the story earlier this week and if the reported correspondence between Griffin and FFA Chief Executive David Gallop is reliable, it adds another layer of intrigue.

From day one there has been something of a rank smell around the decision. After the Matildas’ vocal support of their coach, Reid’s apology and now the supposed denial of information that hampers Griffin’s ability to finalise and legitimise the decision, the smell has become all the more pungent, although the FFA stated Stajcic’s removal came about because they believed the side would benefit from a new coach.

Gallop allegedly denied Griffin access to the information he sought based on the fact that the matter had “not involved complaint nor FFA’s complaint procedures”.

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In turn, the publication claims Gallop justified the denial of access based on the above statement and wrote the following to Griffin.

“The basis upon which you have sought access to confidential board documents is therefore in the respectful view of the FFA board misconceived.”

That sounds an awful lot like Griffin being informed he needs a better reason to access the documents.

From far and wide, the faces of Australian football have begun demanding transparency as Gallop assumes a common position; digging in his heels and refusing to budge.

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With no clarity emanating from FFA headquarters, Reid being accused of a junket-like trip to the World Cup – although it’s since emerged she is over there at her own expense – and Stajcic probably wishing the entire drama would end so he can focus on coaching and being a father, on and on it goes.

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In surely the most mismanaged and unprofessional parting of ways between governing body and national coach in Australian sporting history, the FFA has made an utter mess of the situation and, potentially damaged the chances of the Matildas in France.

A little more transparency around the saga would be very welcome indeed.