A Football Federation Australia (FFA) board member has apologised for implying Alen Stajcic was sacked as Matildas coach for misconduct.
Heather Reid on Friday publicly apologised to Stajcic, who has considered legal action over his controversial axing at Matildas coach last January. Reid, in a statement, apologised for privately suggesting to media and others that "if the whole truth could be told, Stajcic would never work again in women's football."
"Mr Stajcic's contract was not terminated by FFA for breach of contract by Mr Stajcic or because of any misconduct on Mr Stajcic's part," Reid's statement said. "I accept that I was wrong to imply otherwise.
"I understand that my conduct in making public and private statements may have caused serious damage to Mr Stajcic's reputation, both in Australia and internationally."
Stajcic was sacked as Matildas coach on January 19 this year after two surveys and staff and player feedback. Reid, around that time, sent "personal communications" to media and others which, her statement said, compounded "speculation and innuendo as to the reason why Mr Stajcic's employment was terminated."
"I withdraw my statements entirely and unconditionally," she said in her statement. "I apologise unreservedly for the damage, distress and hurt that I have caused to Alen Stajcic ... I apologise also for pain and suffering that I have caused to Mr Stajcic's wife and two young children."
The FFA have repeatedly refused to detail the specifics for Stajcic's axing, citing confidentiality reasons. As Reid released her statement, the FFA issued a media release saying "Stajcic's contract was not terminated on the basis that he had breached his contract or had engaged in any misconduct."
"Alen's contract was terminated by FFA exercising its contractual right of termination by making a pre-agreed payment in lieu of notice," the FFA statement said. "FFA's decision to do this was reached simply because its board formed the view, following a process undertaken by management, that the Matildas would benefit from a new coach for the FIFA World Cup in France."
The FFA said Reid's comment had triggered speculation for the reasons for removing the long-serving coach.
"These statements were not made on behalf of FFA and did not reflect the decision of the board or the reasons why it made that decision," the FFA said.
The Matildas open their World Cup campaign in France with a fixture against Italy on June 9. Stajcic in March was appointed caretaker coach of A-League club Central Coast following the removal of Mike Mulvey, and earlier this month was appointed on a three-year contract to coach the Mariners.