Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf hits back at players, questions commitment

Heraf is currently on "special leave".
Heraf is currently on "special leave". Photo credit: Getty

Football Ferns head coach Andreas Heraf has presented his own version of events surrounding the revolt that lead to his mandated "special leave".

An independent review is currently underway, after 13 of his players voiced their concerns to NZ Football over alleged bullying and intimidation, as well as perceived negative on-field tactics.

Heraf has responded by telling Austrian newspaper derStandard that the revolt was part of a "large scale conspiracy against him" and questioned his players' commitment to high performance sport.

He also accused them of being distracted by social media and the preference for a "fun" team culture, and described the accusations as "out of thin air".

"The players' allegations lack any foundation, and are based on fundamental differences in professionalism and performance," said Heraf.

"The players oppose my European style, with high standards and high expectations of professionalism, and prefer a fun and family culture with a focus on making fun videos and opening up to social networking."

NZ Football chief executive Andy Martin has since stood down from his position after criticism of his handling of complaints surrounding Heraf.

"Some people wrote in the letter that they would not be available under these circumstances,” Heraf continued. “You have to take note of that, but I would talk to everyone again and try to change their minds."

The 50-year-old first came under the spotlight after the Football Ferns' 3-1 loss to Japan, when he attempted to justify his turgid tactics by claiming "we will never have that quality to compete with Japan and even be better than Japan".

Heraf, a former Austrian representative, is also NZ Football's High Performance director.