Alen Stajcic has addressed the media for the first time since his sensational sacking as Matildas coach.
Stajcic finally opened the book on his hurt and despair on Monday, also calling for an independent inquiry into his ousting as coach of the national women’s football team.
“I’ve come here to clean my name and restore my reputation,” he said.
“I’m here to repair what I can having spent 20 years coaching the game.
“My kids have had to go to school and read the speculation, the firestorm that’s erupted due to the lack of transparency. As a father, that’s been the toughest part to take.”
Despite having his employment terminated on January 19, Stajcic made the startling revelation that he still doesn’t know why he was sacked.
“I still do not know the reasons for my termination other than David Gallop telling me the Matildas had a poor culture,” Stajcic said.
“I pressed him on the issue of what he was referring to and he said it was all confidentiality and he couldn’t talk about it.
“There were no behaviours or actions attributed to me.
“In five years I’ve never had a conversation with the CEO or board about the culture of my team.
“Leaving aside the understandable supposition and conjecture in the media and on social media, I remain in the dark about exactly how the FFA arrived at the decision to terminate my employment.”
‘Employment was terminated the next morning’
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 had his employment terminated on January 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 filled out anonymous surveys which reportedly suggested an unhealthy environment.
While Stajcic said he endorsed the surveys at first, he doubts the reliability of the results.
“I lost faith when I saw the actual report come out,” he said.
“I questioned the fact it was an unsecured method of obtaining results.”
The 45-year-old issued a statement earlier on Monday morning ahead of a media conference, labelling his dismissal as 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.
“I have always tried my hardest to provide genuine care for all the players within my teams and have constantly battled with administrators to improve conditions for all in our environment.
“The events of the last few weeks have devastated both me and my family. My career is in tatters and my reputation has been ruined.”
Legal action looming
The incendiary rebuttal of his departure action sets the stage for a remarkable FFA board meeting on Monday night, when all facets of the Stajcic saga will come under the microscope.
It also paves the way for a civil legal action, with Stajcic saying he has taken legal advice.
Many in the football community closed ranks around Stajcic after his departure, questioning the removal of a leader who had brought considerable success.
Senior Matildas – including captains Clare Polkinghorne, Lisa De Vanna and superstar Sam Kerr – all praised Stajcic.
Professional Footballers Australia and the Football Coaches Association decried his axing and the manner of it.
Several prominent coaches called for his reinstatement.
And 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.