Matildas superstar Sam Kerr has hit back at suggestions she was blocked from discussing coach Alen Stajcic axing – but admits she was stunned into silence by the shock sacking.
Kerr was allegedly lined up to meet the press to discuss the FFA's unexpected decision to stand Stajcic down from the Matildas role after routine anonymous player survey picked up 'workplace environment issues'.
Further interviews with players and coaching staff sparked an immediate reaction from the FFA who took the radical decision to remove Stajcic just five months before the start of the Women's World Cup.
Stajcic is now on gardening leave for the next nine months while his contract runs out, preventing him from speaking out.
But a string of current Matildas have come out in support of the coach who has taken the Matildas to be ranked sixth in the world and genuine contenders for the World Cup in France in June.
Yesterday though an interview with Kerr was pulled at the last moment, allegedly at the behest of the FFA (who are funding part of her wage at Perth Glory this season as the W-League's first-ever marquee player.)
This afternoon though Kerr responded on Twitter and insisted no-one had tried to block her from talking.
She wrote: "I have not been gagged by the FFA.
"I have not commented because I wasn’t ready to comment while I am still shocked and upset.
"My trust was in Staj to lead us to the World Cup final. I believe he was the best coach for that. Thankful for everything his done for me and the team."
I have not been gagged by the FFA. I have not commented because I wasn’t ready to comment while I am still shocked and upset. My trust was in Staj to lead us to the World Cup final & I believe he was the best coach for that. Thankful for everything his done for me and the team.— Sam Kerr (@samkerr1) January 20, 2019
Striker Lisa de Vanna also rallied to Stajcic's support too this afternoon. When the news first broke yesterday, she posted a gif about lies.
But today on Twitter she voiced her feelings more clearly.
Great to get 3 big points on the road.— Lisa De Vanna (@lisadevanna11) January 20, 2019
Still devastated & numb about the news.
Staj has done so much for women’s football in Aus - giving belief and hope that I thought I would never see. No matter what happens, the love and passion he has will continue to drive this team.
Matildas skipper Emily van Egmond, daughter of Stajcic's assistant coach Gary van Egmond, has also spoken of her shock at the FFA's action yesterday in a tweet this afternoon,
She wrote: "Still trying to fathom the disappointing news from yesterday. Our team owes a great deal of gratitude to Staj for his work in bettering us all.
"I wish him nothing but the best for the future and thank him for his commitment to our team. We will endeavor to make him proud."
Still trying to fathom the disappointing news from yesterday. Our team owes a great deal of gratitude to Staj for his work in bettering us all.— Emily Van Egmond (@Em_surf) January 20, 2019
I wish him nothing but the best for the future and thank him for his commitment to our team. We will endeavor to make him proud.
Ellie Carpenter also joined in, replying to Sam Kerr's post with a "okay" emoji of apparent agreement and approval.
👌🏽— Ellie Carpenter (@CarpenterEllie) January 20, 2019
Laura Alleway added her voice this evening too, paying tribute to Stajcic's achievements during his four years in charge.
Well said KK. Thanks Staj for everything you’ve helped us achieve. Women’s football in Australia is where it is today because of your passion for the game. A legacy to be proud of. https://t.co/z38wggZeBR— Laura Alleway (@LauraAlleway) January 20, 2019