New Zealand women's team gets apology over 'bullying' coach

Andreas Heraf (Getty Images)
Andreas Heraf (Getty Images)

Wellington - New Zealand Football (NZF) apologised to members of the women's national team Wednesday for failing to stop bullying, harassment and intimidation by the side's former coach.

An independent review found the allegations against the coach, Austrian Andreas Heraf, were "largely substantiated" but that NZF did not act when players raised concerns.

NZF president Deryck Shaw apologised to the players concerned and promised meaningful change at the organisation.

"We apologise to our players for the conduct of the former head coach of the Football Ferns and failings in the organisation that led to this review," he said.

"We are deeply sorry that these events occurred and for the distress caused."

Heraf quit in July, a few weeks after it was revealed that 13 members of the team no longer wanted to play under him and had complained about his conduct.

The then NZF chief executive, Andy Martin, initially backed Heraf and later said he was "shocked" to have received written complaints from players.

He also resigned in the wake of the affair, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Employment lawyer Phillipa Muir conducted a review of the matter, interviewing 80 people, including 12 players.

"While I accept that some of Mr. Heraf's actions could be characterised as 'robust' coaching, other behaviour crossed the line into bullying and harassment," she found.

Muir also noted there were no women on NZF's senior leadership team and said it needed to give female coaches a clear career pathway.

"There is a perception of a 'boys' club' and a tolerance of inappropriate banter in parts of the organisation," she said.

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