Former Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf slams New Zealand culture, media

Andreas Heraf.
Andreas Heraf. Photo credit: Getty

Former Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf has accused New Zealand media of comparing him to Adolf Hitler.

Speaking to Sky Sports Austria, the 50-year-old has also reported on a culture of discrimination against foreigners among New Zealanders.

Heraf was at the centre of controversy earlier this year, when national squad players in accused their coach of bullying and intimidation.

The Austrian, who was also NZ Football director of football, was heavily criticised for his defensive tactics in a 3-1 friendly loss to Japan in June.

Following an investigation, Heraf resigned from both posts in July and was quickly followed by CEO Andy Martin.

"From the beginning, resistance against foreigners has been felt throughout the country," Heraf said.

"I can prove it and that was the reason why I left the country. 

"The newspapers that massively attacked me compared me to Adolf Hitler, the Austrian dictator."

Heraf denied he ever intentionally bullied any members of the Ferns squad, hitting out at the losing mentality in New Zealand football.

"I have a pure heart, a clear conscience," Heraf said. "Many things happened in New Zealand that were a meeting of different cultures. 

"For example, participation is capitalised and performance is almost nonexistent. 

"For example, the ladies have participated in four world championships and have never won a game. 

"On the other hand, there is this incredible belief and will of the entire population that you can win everything. I've explained to the team and the people that you cannot win five or six games in three weeks, if you've never won before. 

"It was difficult to understand this culture."

The former Austrian international pointed to other on-going investigations within New Zealand sports as proof that player-power has become a common trend in the country.

Hockey, cycling, netball and rowing have all had recent controversies surrounding head coaches, and issues with their players or athletes.

"That's also the problem that New Zealand has for me," Heraf noted. "There is the term 'player-led' - led by players. 

"I was a bit surprised that it is common practice that the athletes want or have a say in different things. 

"That was also the case for me in terms of tactics, compilation of the coaching team, training design. 

"There was a message that the association had received the message from the players' union, that there was dissatisfaction, and that the coach and sports director of the national team shouldn't be allowed to initiate proceedings. 

"I was surprised that nobody spoke to me. I had no opportunity to express my opinion. 

"I'm here today after two-and-a-half months, where I have the opportunity to say something."