4 Oct 2018

NZ Football struggle to own up

10:32 am on 4 October 2018


For football's sake, New Zealand Football chair Deryck Shaw needs to re-consider his decision not to step down in the wake of the damming report into bullying and harassment in the Football Ferns writes Sports Editor Stephen Hewson.

Twelve players lodged complaints about Austrian coach Andreas Heraf.

The investigation by Phillipa Muir found Heraf had "offended, humiliated or intimidated" some players and that his behaviour was "repeated and unreasonable."

Heraf is now gone and so to the man who appointed him former chief executive Andy Martin.

Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf.

Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf. Photo: Photosport

However New Zealand Football, said the report, has to bear some responsibility because it failed to take seriously some of the reports from Football Ferns tours to Thailand and Spain.

Former All White Sam Malcolmson has made no bones about it.

"The one thing that's loud and clear is the chairman should go. The chairman was very close to the CEO.... and I think that he is the one thing that has to go. And without him gone, then New Zealand Football can't start afresh."

The report labelled the organisation a 'Boys Club' but Shaw seems to be struggling to accept that.

On RNZ's Checkpoint programme he dithered when asked whether he agreed with that finding.

"I can't comment. That's a matter for the reviewer. She's found that...We didn't do the review."

The smart move for Shaw here was a complete mea culpa.

Put his hands up and say 'yes we have got things horribly wrong'.

Muir's report has undoubtedly revealed much more than the New Zealand Football board was aware of but what hurts most is that it's also been laid bare publicly.

What Shaw needed to do - whether he agreed with the report or not - was to accept it fully and give it an unresounding endorsement and for the sake of football say 'I am stepping down so that things can start afresh.'

New Zealand Football chair Deryck Shaw.

New Zealand Football chair Deryck Shaw. Photo: Photosport

Failing that he needed to say 'I got us into this mess. I am going to get us out of it.'

That may well be his thinking but he hasn't expressed it strongly enough.

He hasn't taken ownership of the problem and exposes yet again the lack of leadership at the organisation.

Shaw remains as chair for now.

He could yet be ousted by the members, essentially the country's seven football federations who hold sway when it comes to voting for the board.

If they give Shaw and his board the thumbs down for their handling of the matter then their time - just like Heraf and Martin - will be up.

And perhaps that's the only viable solution if Football is move on.