Matildas teammate addresses calls to strip Sam Kerr of Australian team captaincy

Mackenzie Arnold says there has been no move to strip Sam Kerr of the Matildas captaincy.

Matildas goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold has squashed claims that Sam Kerr could be stripped of the Matildas captaincy following the fallout from her ongoing legal battle in the UK. Kerr was charged for using insulting, threatening or abusive words that caused alarm or distress during an incident in Twickenham on January 30, 2023, where she threw up in a taxi after a night out.

The striker allegedly called a police officer a 'stupid white bastard' after the cops were called over a dispute regarding a taxi fare, however, the 30-year-old denies she used the word 'bastard'. Of more concern for Football Australia, however, was that Kerr failed to inform the governing body about being charged for multiple weeks -despite telling her English club team, Chelsea.

Pictured Sam Kerr left and Matildas right
Mackenzie Arnold says there has been no move to strip Sam Kerr of the Matildas captaincy. Image: Getty

Since then there have been calls for Kerr to be removed from her post as national team captain. Most recently retired Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson said she must be stripped of the Matildas' captaincy as if she isn't it sends a 'terrible message'. "More than just being looked up to by many young girls and boys, Kerr is the captain," Johnson wrote in a column for The Nightly.

"Leaders need to lead from the front, and not telling the national body about her legal issues sends a terrible message, more so when you’re the captain. This would be a good time to show the young kids who look up to her, or any of our sports stars, that you must be accountable for your actions. What message does this send our kids otherwise?"

Arnold is currently with the Matildas squad in the United States as they prepare for a friendly match with Mexico on Wednesday (AEST) next week. The Aussie goalkeeper says there is no indication from the Matildas camp that Kerr may be stripped of the captaincy.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 12: Mackenzie Arnold and Sam Kerr of Australia talk after the France goal is disallowed during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Quarter Final match between Australia and France at Brisbane Stadium on August 12, 2023 in Brisbane / Meaanjin, Australia. (Photo by Elsa - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Mackenzie Arnold says there is no indication that Sam Kerr could be stripped of the captaincy.

"I don't believe so (that there is conversations about whether or not to strip Kerr as Matildas captain)," she said. "I haven't really had that conversation. It's just not really in the team environment right now."

"Honestly, we haven't really spoken about it at all," she said. "Sam's just really concentrating on her knee rehab back in London and she's in high spirits and just pretty much carrying on with normal. We haven't really conversed with the team and her at all."

Kerr will miss the Paris Olympics in July following an anterior cruciate ligament injury in January. Matildas' regular vice-captain Steph Catley is expected to be handed the armband for the Olympics.


Tony Gustavsson set to experiment with different tacts ahead of Olympic Games

Tony Gustavsson has suggested the Matildas are attempting to trial a new style of play after the Aussie's counterattack style that proved successful during their golden Women’s World Cup run became somewhat easy to counter. "I wouldn't know if I'd call it luxurious (the US facilities) ... but it gives us probably the best chance to sort of prepare on how we want to play," Arnold revealed.

"We're making a couple of changes to how we want to play and this probably comes at a perfect time just to really get a solid seven days together really working on that." But as to what those 'changes' were, the Matildas coach is remaining tight-lipped. "That's what you'd have to find out ... different playing styles, experimenting with different positions."

Before the Matildas 5-0 friendly loss to Canada at the end of last year, Gustavsson said he needed to make changes to the style of play, with more of a focus on build-up play. The Matildas didn't have a Plan B against England and Sweden and it proved costly.

"We've also seen that we’ve struggled a little bit to play through lines, which means, come Olympics, we don't want to be as predictable in our attack and we want to improve playing through," Gustavsson said in December.

"I try to stay away from (calling it a) possession style because we don’t just want to keep the ball for the sake of keeping the ball. We’re a goal-scoring machine that want to score a lot of goals and attack a lot and play vertical. This gives us the tools to be able to do that more often."

with AAP