Former Matildas striker Catherine Cannuli says the poisonous debate dredged up after the sacking of Alen Stajcic is harming football's growth in the women’s and men’s game in Australia.
“It’s a very sad time for women’s football. It’s sad for Alen and the players that it’s all come undone.
“To lose someone who’s devoted 18 years of his life to the game of women’s football in general. There aren’t many coaches who do that.
“He’s never been one to say he’ll use the women’s game to step into men’s football.
“Four months out from a World Cup, to have to go through something like this. It’s a really sad time.
“I know from first hand Alen is not that type of man. He’s a good man. A good father. A good person, always willing to help.
“To see some of the stuff said on social media it’s really sad for everyone, not just his family and his kids.
“I can tell you some prospective male coaches are saying we have to be so careful about what we do and say. It’s going to turn off some people for getting involved in the women's’ game.
“We want footballers to be in a good environment. Seeing it with my own eyes I never noticed any issue in terms of a bad culture in the camps I’ve been invited to by Alen.
“We don’t want to scare coaches away from wanting to demand professionalism and high standard.”
Stajcic has been helping Cannuli on her coaching journey over the last two years, passing on the skills he’s acquired to help her become a better coach.
“He was there as a player and now he’s here as a mentor to me being a coach. We coach at SD Raiders U14s, where Staj’s daughter plays," Cannuli explained.
“It’s been a massive help for my coaching. He’s a natural the way he talks to the girls to get the best out of them for juniors and seniors. He’s always been a successful coach.
“His track record shows he’s always been successful.”
Cannuli says the sacking is a destabilizing element to the national team’s preparations just four months out from a World Cup.
Only time will tell what effect it will have on the group.
“You need that stability and have that person who is leading the group and where the players are all behind that person.
“The girls will represent as best as they can. But this is going to be a huge distraction. There are a lot of girls who are unhappy with what has happened," she added.
“There are girls who are going to feel disheartened.
“The girls I’ve spoken to have been quite upset at what’s happened. The girls are only human and of course, there’ll be emotions around what’s gone on.
“Over the last four years, that group has created such a bond and a belief. They all bought into Alen’s vision. They had buy-in. So I’m sure there’ll be a majority sad at not having him there.
“And of course Staj will be devastated at not being able to lead his team at the World Cup.”