Make those responsible in Stajcic saga ‘accountable’, says Arrarte


Former Matildas assistant Nahuel Arrarte has implored Football Federation Australia to learn the lessons of the Alen Stajcic sacking saga to ensure “something like this never happens again”.

The fallout from the controversial and contentious dismissal of his ex-boss continues to rage, with FFA CEO David Gallop’s refusal to release documents detailing the underlying reasons to the ruling body’s own compliance committee only adding gasoline to the inferno.

FFA were hoping the recent apology of deputy chair Heather Reid over her divisive role in the unseemly drama would finally put it to bed.

But this latest twist has re-ignited the affair, casting a cloud over the Matildas at the FIFA Women’s World Cup where a shock 2-1 opening loss to Italy has already heaped scrutiny on coach Ante Milicic and his team.

Arrarte, who quit in solidarity with Stajcic and is now his number two at Central Coast Mariners, views finally opening the vault on exactly what prompted his mysterious removal five months ago as “in a sense irrelevant”.

“The damage has been done already,” he said.

“The most important thing now is finalising a process whereby a thing like this, which continues to jeopardize the game in this country, is never allowed to happen again.

“Staj and has family have already suffered, and so has the game itself.

“We have focus on making the people behind this accountable and moving forward making sure that proper safeguards are put in place.

“We shouldn’t have to be talking about things like this while the Matildas are competing at a World Cup, and with all the other things happening in our game.

“We need to have a good look at ourselves and the whole structure internally. On a broader scale, I believe the whole structure of our football landscape needs an overhaul.”

While Stajcic has picked up the pieces of his career after all the innuendo surrounding his exit - subsequently thoroughly debunked - its his successor who is now feeling the heat with the Matildas needing to beat Brazil on Friday (AEST) to keep their flag flying in France.

Arrarte said it should not be forgotten that it was Stajcic, during his four-year tenure, who put the Matildas on the map in the first place, taking them at one point to number four in the world.

With many wistfully wishing he was still in situ, Arrarte added: “He worked so hard to make the Matildas a powerhouse.

“He was doing things for women’s football from way back.

“He had limited resources and limited funding and fought for those girls like there was no tomorrow.

“He battled with the hierarchy to get things done. People tend to forget that.

“They’ve (the team) have now reaped the benefits of the extra backing he battled so hard for, and that’s great to see.

“He’s been in their corner when there was nothing there.”

With FFA insisting that Stajcic was replaced on purely coaching criteria, the lingering spectre of conspiratorial forces at play looms large.

“There was obviously never a case of any misconduct there, so you have ask yourself the reasons why (he was dumped),” continued Arrarte.

“You can call it a conspiracy if you like. The people involved (in his axing) know what the underlying issues are and the general public is beginning to understand also.

“Recent articles (highlighted by Reid’s apology for her conduct) show there were people out to get him for whatever reason.

“It’s their issue. I don’t know. Things happened behind the scenes that weren’t ethical.

“The people that had problem weren’t Staj.”

Arrarte doesn’t believe this seemingly interminable melodrama has affected the players in France.

“They’re professionals and should be able to adapt to things like a change of coach,” he said.

“Like anything there will be players in that camp who are still questioning what happened.

“But when it comes to a technical and tactical perspective these players are changing clubs and countries on a regular basis and adopting and adapting to different styles. They have to have some form of versatility.

“Having a new coach (Milicic), they should be able to adapt to the changes.

“Off the park the feeling within the camp, I suppose only they will know how much of an impact it has had.”