Football Federation Australia deputy chair Heather Reid has “apologised unreservedly” to former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic for comments she made about him when he was unceremoniously sacked earlier this year.
In January, the former Capital Football boss was quoted saying that if people knew the actual facts about Mr Stajcic’s behaviour ‘they would be shocked’ in a Sydney Morning Herald article.
Stajcic was sacked suddenly in January just six months before he was due to coach the Matildas at the World Cup and was subsequently replaced by Ante Milicic.
In a written apology issued on Friday morning (31 May), Ms Reid said she withdrew the statements “entirely and unconditionally”.
“I regret making these statements. I apologise also for pain and suffering that I have caused to Mr Stajcic’s wife and two young children,” she said.
“I apologise unreservedly for the damage, distress and hurt that I have caused to Alen Stajcic as a professional football coach and long-time servant to, and advocate for, Australian and women’s football.
“I understand that my conduct in making public and private statements may have caused serious damage to Mr Stajcic’s reputation, both in Australia and internationally.”
Ms Reid, who is currently taking sick leave from the FFA board as she battles endometrial cancer, said she also spoke to other journalists “who have used my words to compound the speculation and innuendo”.
“I also, at around this time, sent personal communications to a number of people including various members of the media, in which I suggested that, if the whole truth could be told, Mr Stajcic would never work again in women’s football,” she said.
“I understand also that these communications ended up in the hands of other journalists who have used my words to compound the speculation and innuendo as to the reason why Mr Stajcic’s employment was terminated.
“Mr Stajcic’s contract was not terminated by FFA for breach of contract by Mr Stajcic, or because of any misconduct on Mr Stajcic’s part. I accept that I was wrong to imply otherwise.”
FFA has distanced itself from Ms Reid’s comments, saying the “statements were not made on behalf of FFA and did not reflect the decision of the board or the reasons why it made that decision”.
“Alen’s contract was terminated by FFA exercising its contractual right of termination by making a pre-agreed payment in lieu of notice,” the statement read.
“FFA’s decision to do this was reached simply because its Board formed the view, following a process undertaken by management, that the Matildas would benefit from a new coach for the FIFA World Cup in France.
“FFA acknowledges that some of the speculations about the termination of Alen’s contract was caused by statements made by one of its directors, Heather Reid. Heather has withdrawn those comments and issued an apology to Alen for having made them.”
The FFA statement said the board and Mr Stajcic “have also agreed to resolve their differences and move forward and neither will be making any further comment on these issues”.