An independent review commissioned by Football Federation Australia (FFA) found no proof of a ‘lesbian mafia’ operating in women’s soccer.
Following the axing of Matilda’s coach Alen Stajcic in January, sources reported he used the term ‘lesbian mafia’ in relation to women’s soccer in Australia. Stajcic denied ever saying the words.
However, with his firing following two surveys reporting player welfare issues within the Matilda’s, FFA commissioned the inquiry.
No lesbian mafia
The review found both nothing to justify the term ‘lesbian mafia’ and no indication personal bias caused Stajcic’s firing.
Previously FFA director Heather Reid stated “if people knew the actual facts about Mr Stajcic’s behaviour, they would be shocked.”
However, she later apologised for that statement.
In other findings, the review criticised a lack of player empowerment. It also stated that FFA’s board and administrators failed to implement change.
Players were not “consistently listened to by administrators and those governing the sport.”
The report suggested ‘non-players’ clamoured for attention at the expense of the actual players. Indeed, it described the team members as relegated to ‘bit players’.
The report recommended switching from a coach-centric to an athlete-centric culture in the national teams.
In other recommendations it suggested:
- Promoting gender balance in a move towards the full participation of women at all levels of football governance.
- Conducting a pay audit to rectify any inequity in pay and conditions.
- Establishing player leadership groups within the national teams and a whistle-blower policy.
- Developing a management manual, including clear guidelines for managing intra-squad player relationships.
During this year’s World Cup in France, Norway defeated the Matilda’s in the Round of 16 in Australia’s worst result since 2003.
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