Football Federation Australia has apologised to former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic over his sacking. Picture: AAP
Football Federation Australia has apologised to former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic over his sacking. Picture: AAP

Stajcic sacking inquiry even more urgent after FFA apology

IT'S funny how one rule seems to apply to Football Federation Australia and another to those operating under its banner.

At that now infamous press conference on January 19, chief executive David Gallop uttered what looks like, in hindsight, a significant proclamation on sacked Matildas coach Alen Stajcic.

"The ultimate responsibility for driving change and leading a high-performance environment that puts the team in the best possible position to achieve what they are capable of rests with the head coach," Gallop said.

"We no longer have confidence that Alen is the right person to lead the team and staff."

The buck, according to FFA's management, stops with those highest in charge.

Well, it's now time for the FFA to heed its own advice and launch an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Stajcic's sacking.

On Friday the organisation lurched, quite astonishingly, from righteous to apologetic in regards to the former coach, who is considering defamation legal proceedings.

A kowtow from deputy chairwoman Heather Reid and a slightly more grudging acknowledgment from FFA is an extraordinary backflip on the Stajcic situation.

The FFA now appears to be distancing itself from Reid, who has apologised unreservedly for her public and private remarks about Stajcic. Problem is, the buck doesn't stop with her.

Both Gallop and chairman Chris Nikou sat at that January press conference and spoke of anonymous surveys unearthing workplace issues allegedly serious enough to warrant sacking a coach five months before a World Cup.

More than four months later, it's now revealed Stajcic was fired "simply" because the board felt "the Matildas would benefit from a new coach for the FIFA World Cup in France".

Both Reid and FFA have now conceded any inference Stajcic had breached his contract or engaged in misconduct of any kind is erroneous.

It should be said none of this mess should detract from the virtues of Stajcic's successor, Ante Milicic, an experienced coach whose success in transitioning the Matildas smoothly during a difficult period has been lauded.

But the issue is not a question of coaching ability or performance or even culture. Had that been the case - and FFA's rationale delivered with clarity to both the public and Stajcic - the organisation would not still be trying to clean up this shambles.

In its simplest form, this is about determining good governance and fair process.

Such objectivity must therefore come from outside FFA, from fresh, disinterested eyes not blinded by a web of agendas. That time is now.