Sydney, Dec 19 (IANS) An independent review has dismissed the notion that a “lesbian mafia” was behind the controversial dismissal of Australia national women’s football team coach Alen Stajcic.
Stajcic was sacked in January this year, just five months before the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and after the Matildas had risen to fourth in the world rankings and claimed the 2017 Tournament of Nation’s trophy, Xinhua news agency reports.
Although rumors and reports at the time had suggested a toxic “culture of fear and unacceptable levels of stress among the players,” there were also accusations that the push to oust Stajcic was led by a group of players and staff referred to as the “lesbian mafia”.
But in an independent Review of Football Federation Australia (FFA) National Teams’ Management on Thursday, an expert panel of three found these claims to be unsubstantiated.
“The Panel was unable to uncover any evidence supporting the existence of any formal ‘lesbian mafia’ or that the decision to terminate the Matildas head coach contract was driven by personal bias against Stajcic or in pursuit of other agendas,” the report said.
“Traditional media articles and social media ventilated the notion extensively and the panel has not been able to find evidence that the FFA took any proportionate action to address the issue nor protect the individuals who were the target of this speculation.”
Offering recommendations on how to improve the running of Australia’s mens’ and womens’ national football teams, the report determined there must be better “feedback mechanisms” to deal with player complaints.