4 Oct 2018

Former Football Fern says coach should not have had job

7:47 am on 4 October 2018

A former Football Fern says the team's disgraced ex-coach Andreas Heraf should never have got the job and that he does not know how to work with women.

Football Ferns' coach Andreas Heraf addresses the media after the match between the Football Ferns and Japan in June.

Football Ferns' coach Andreas Heraf addresses the media after the match between the Football Ferns and Japan in June. Photo: PhotoSport

Employment lawyer Phillipa Muir released the findings of an independent review into New Zealand Football yesterday after 12 Football Ferns made complaints about bullying and harassment by Mr Heraf.

The women complained that their Austrian coach Andreas Heraf bullied, offended, humiliated and intimidated players and staff.

Some said that if he did not leave, they would.

The review concluded that New Zealand Football had to share some responsibility as complaints were genuine and "largely substantiated".

Former Football Fern Katie Duncan, who retired the year before Heraf started as coach, said he should never have been given the job.

"It was just a shambles and a shame that he was put in that position to start off with and that the girls have to be put in that situation too."

And she said that Mr Heraf's inexperience working with women had really shown through.

"Perhaps it worked in the past with his men's teams that he coached ... perhaps that was the style that he used and that worked in the past.

"He's said on a couple of occasions that there's no difference in coaching men and women, so perhaps he just thought that's the way to do it."

Vivianne Miedema jostles with Katie Duncan, 2015.

Vivianne Miedema jostles with Katie Duncan, 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Football Ferns' forward Sarah Gregorius said the report vindicated the women who came forward.

"It was clearly just like a necessary thing that needed to take place and obviously the recommendations have validated that in a sense. And I think the results are pretty positive for the Football Ferns."

She said the saga would not throw the squad off their game.

"You've got a group of elite female athletes who can take anything that's thrown into their path."

Harry Ngata, from the players' union, the Professional Footballers' Association, called the review a "great step forward" for the Football Ferns, but also for the game in general in New Zealand.

"The environment that the players were expected to perform in at a high-performance level was not conducive to an elite environment."

At a press conference yesterday, Ms Muir said New Zealand Football needed to shoulder some of the blame for not helping Mr Heraf when he started in the job, and for failing to take the players' complaints seriously at first.

She made 22 recommendations ranging from dealing with Football Ferns' complaints to player welfare, culture, the governing body's processes, diversity and governance.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin also resigned in the wake of the players' complaints, but the terms of his departure are confidential so were not touched on in the review.

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