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The vilification of women in The Matildas saga (Australia)

2018 was a watershed year for women in sport, with sell-out crowds, growing audiences, cracking performances and a perceptible shift in the recognition that women?s sport is every bit as thrilling as men?s.

But the beginning of 2019 has revealed the extent to which misogyny still plagues females in the male dominated world of sport. On and off the field.

On the 18th of January this year the Football Federation Australia sacked Alen Stajcic as head coach of the national women?s team, the Matildas, and the fall out has been spectacularly ugly.

It is five months out from the World Cup which is not typically the time national teams swap out their leader. The timing meant this dismissal was always going to be controversial.

When the chief executive of FFA, David Gallop, announced the decision to the media, just a few hours after informing the coach, it confirmed rumours that had been swirling since the day before.

?We no longer feel confident that Alen is the right person to lead the team and the staff,? Gallop said.

Details surrounding the shock decision have been relatively scant, most likely due to a combination of confidentiality clauses and a desire to avoid or minimise any potential legal action.

Gallop said ultimately the team culture had deteriorated to the point action was necessary. The results of two surveys, a confidential wellness audit and a gender equality culture survey, which highlighted various issues, were cited as part of the explanation.

Among the more alarming findings reported, a quarter of the players who responded reported feeling psychological distress and many were afraid to seek support, believing it would be held against them. Fewer than 20 per cent of the players said they felt the team environment was conducive to making them better players or people.

?It?s a misconception that the decision in relation to the head coach was solely based on surveys, it was based on a range of reasons and a range of information,? Gallop said.

?These matters are accumulative and there was a real view that things had deteriorated over a period of time ? and that?s why the decision was taken.?



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