On the same day he was a major part of one of the most positive football stories — bringing refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi home from a Thai prison — former Socceroos skipper Craig Foster has been asked to weigh in on the debacle surrounding former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic.
And his words for Football Federation Australian were not pretty.
Speaking on SEN radio Foster admitted he had not been able to read much on Stajcic’s sacking, which was ostensibly, as relayed by FFA CEO David Gallop for presiding over a “dysfunctional” and toxic team culture as the Matildas’ coach.
But Foster rounded on FFA for their own “serious culture problem,” saying it was the main reason why he decided to withdraw his candidacy to join the FFA board.
“I think someone needs to stand up to the game but I am not across all of the details,” Foster said.
“What I do know is that the game has a serious culture problem and I ran in the recent (board) election and it’s just a mess.
“The election was a farce. The lack of ethics involved there was disgusting and that’s why I pulled out.”
While he could not speak on whether he felt Stajcic should be reinstated as Matildas coach, Foster joined the chorus of those in the football media calling for an independent investigation into Stajcic’s sacking.
“Whilst I am not across all of the facts, what I would say is we need an independent investigation right now, just to work out exactly what has occurred and make sure everyone has conducted themselves appropriately,” he said.
While Foster stopped short of calling for Stajcic to be reinstated as Matildas coach, Fox Sports analyst Robbie Slater was more aggressive and demanded FFA reinstate Stajcic as Matildas coach.
“I think he (Stajcic) should be reinstated, I think there should be an apology from FFA — put your hand up — and say ‘we got it wrong’,” Slater said on Fox Sports News.
“Those who held this vendetta need to be brought to account, whether that is Luke Casserly (head of national teams) or Emma Highwood (head of high performance), or whoever it may be, they need to be held to account if it was their decision.”
Slater even advocated for the Matildas to repeat their actions of 2015 — when they were looking for better pay — and to go on strike to force FFA’s hand if they really want to get their old coach back.
“The Matildas also need to know that they do have power,” Slater said.
“If they do support Stajcic, lets not forget they striked for money in 2015, so they have the power to influence what may happen next.
“The right decision would be to reinstate Alen Stajcic.”
It seems unlikely that will be the case given that late on Monday FFA released a statement aimed at discrediting Stajcic’s version of events, saying his comments to the media left them ‘surprised’.