Former Matildas head coach Alen Stajcic has spoken for the first time to give his side of the story about his shock sacking by the FFA nearly a month ago. He's holding a press conference later today, but, in his own words below, this is how the nightmare unfolded for him.
The last two years have been a massive experience for everyone in the group, as most players transitioned from being semi-pro to full-time professional footballers. It has been a steep learning curve for all, amplified by the success, attention and scrutiny that the Matildas now rightly deserve.
All of us, staff and players, strived daily to overcome any issues – on or off the field – to ensure we could be the best we could possibly be: as people, first and foremost, and then as footballers representing our families, our sport and our country.
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.
My family must now live out this daily drama in the public eye. Reading reports quoting an FFA Board Director, again without any specifics or understanding of the work we had been doing, has been extraordinarily hurtful. It has only added fuel to this firestorm of speculation.
Statements that were leaked by this particular Board Director, which included “that I would never work in football again”, have caused irreparable damage. All up, the emotional and mental toll that the past fortnight has taken on me, and my family, cannot be described in words.
I consider these actions of the FFA to be without foundation and unjustifiable – and the alleged actions of the FFA Board Member have smeared my name, not only as an International Coach, but as a father and as a person.
I have taken legal advice about these matters, which includes potential action on defamation and the breach of contractual obligations by the FFA.
The support that I have received from players, staff, family, friends and the general public has been overwhelming. As a football community, and more broadly as a nation, we were on this journey together. I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.
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.
I have always loved our sport and the people within it who bring the same energy and passion that I do. My intent has always been to strive for excellence and to constantly push ourselves out of our comfort zones.
We all dreamed Australia could become World Champions this year and, beyond that, I wanted to play my part in unlocking the potential of the sport in our country. Irrespective of my termination, it goes without saying that I wish the team all the best in the World Cup and beyond.
While it has broken my heart and spirit to think I am no longer on that journey that I shared with so many for such a long time, I will continue to follow the Matildas – both individually and a team. I truly wish to see Australia take its rightful place on the world football stage and believe this team can do it.
For now, I look forward to the search for truth, honour and integrity in this awful saga. I concur with others who are demanding a full and independent investigation.
I earnestly hope that this matter can be resolved in a timely manner in the best interests of the Matildas, my family, and the broader football community.