Casserly called back from Asian Cup as part of Matildas inquest

Alen Stajcic (L) and FFA Head of National Performance Luke Casserly (R) Source: twitter

Luke Casserly, FFA’s head of national performance, has been called home from the AFC Asian Cup, as the review deepens into the Matildas culture which led to Saturday’s shock sacking of coach Alen Stajcic.

While there is no suggestion that the Socceroo turned administrator will be held culpable for what the FFA board saw as dysfunctional workplace environment under Stajcic’s watch, his recall shows the scope of the reverberations outlined by CEO David Gallop.

FFA’s head of women’s sport Emma Highwood will also be quizzed as the board delve into any systemic issues at play.

The decision to unseat Stajcic, while causing outrage among many sections of a bewildered football fraternity, was - according to a source close to the FFA board - a unanimous one.

And the board, who reached their verdict during two-hour conference call on Friday, are now turning their attentions to making sure cultural deficits do not become issues with the Socceroos and the other national teams under their jurisdiction.

The source said that Stajcic, in isolation, was not solely accountable for the perceived shortcomings of his reign, and that the FFA would also look at its own leadership team and what they might have done differently.

The inquest coincides with a pre-planned Matildas leadership workshop taking place today and Tuesday in Sydney where Gallop and other FFA executives are seeking to calm the concerns of players, many of which have expressed their dismay at Stajcic’s axing on social media.

It’s understood that the findings from two anonymous player surveys surrounding the Matildas set-up - conducted by the PFA and Our Watch - were not the sole driver for Stajcic’s dismissal.

The Our Watch survey centered on psychological well-being, culture, safety, emotional support and even sleep.

The inference is that Stajcic, 45, failed to see the necessity to change his approach, or indeed recognise there were any significant issues, when interviewed by Gallop, along with players and other coaches and support staff in one-on-one discussions.

The source insisted that Stajcic’s fate had not been sealed prior to the board’s deliberations on Friday amid concerns over perceived bullying and a work place deemed to be unsatisfactory.

The future of Stajcic’s assistant Gary van Egmond, who was at loggerheads with his boss, remains unclear, with the ongoing enquiry also having him in its cross hairs.