Exclusive: Andreas Heraf's future as Football Ferns coach hanging by a thread after latest revelations in player letters

Andreas Heraf's future is hanging by a thread after half of the Football Ferns squad passed on personal statements of their concerns about the coach to their players association.

1 NEWS has tracked down the letters submitted by up to 12 players sent to the board, with allegations against the Austrian manager including incidents of intimidation and scare tactics which created a miserable team environment.

"There's probably a lot there that are uncomfortable with Andreas in his position right now," Harry Ngata of the NZ Professional Footballers' Association said.

Another criticism against Heraf centres on his approach to team culture, saying it was the least important focus.

A senior New Zealand Football (NZF) official told 1 NEWS that some players have said they won't turn out for the Ferns again while Heraf remains coach.

NZF CEO Andy Martin is also in the spotlight.

One letter alleges Martin supported Heraf's decision not to pick two senior players who he'd accused of conspiring against him.

It's not the first accusation of concerns being raised with NZ Football.

A long standing staff member told 1 NEWS they'd told the organisation about fears for player welfare after the Spain tour in March. Nothing happened and that person has since resigned.

The entire saga has come to a head after Heraf's controversial comments following their loss to Japan in Wellington earlier this month.

The Professional Footballers Association has requested an independent review while NZF declined to comment today but are expected to make an announcement about that inquiry tomorrow.

If it goes ahead, it's understood Heraf will be suspended until the inquiry is completed.

Allegations against Andreas Heraf include incidents of intimidation and scare tactics which created a miserable team environment. Source: 1 NEWS


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'It was a bad mistake' - Brazil star apologises after spitting in face of rival

Juventus winger Douglas Costa has apologised but faces a lengthy ban after spitting in the face of Sassuolo's Federico Di Francesco during an Italian Serie A match.

The flash point came in second-half stoppage time as Juve saw out a 2-1 victory, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice to get off the mark this season.

Sassuolo had just pulled a goal back through Khouma Babacar when Costa and Di Francesco squared up.

Brazilian winger Costa already looked to have lost his composure after aiming an elbow and a headbutt moments earlier but the worst was to come as he spat directly at Di Francesco from inches away.

Costa was sent off after the intervention of the video assistant referee.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri admitted the behaviour was unacceptable and Costa later offered his mea culpa on Instagram.

"I would like to apologise to all Juventus fans for this misleading reaction in today's game. I also apologise to my team-mates, who are always with me in beautiful and bad moments," he wrote.

"It was a bad mistake, I am aware of it and I apologise to everyone for this. I make it clear that this isolated attitude does not correspond to what I have always shown in my career."

Now Costa could see the Italian authorities clamp down on his behaviour.

"Even if he was fouled, these episodes must not happen," Allegri told reporters.

"The only thing we have to avoid doing this year is rising to the provocation.

"We had the game where we wanted it but we started playing as individuals and not as a team."

Allegri added that Costa will face club sanctions.

"It's only right that he (Costa) is fined, and he certainly will be... I was surprised by his reaction," he said.

"We have suffered a goal, a red card and a suspension which will be long."


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Wellington Phoenix pursuing signature of another former EPL star - report

Wellington Phoenix are hoping to use the A-League's marquee fund to help mount a bid for former Inter Milan and Newcastle United star Obafemi Martins.

AAP understands the Phoenix have received the green light from Football Federation Australia to pursue Martins, who is currently contracted to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.

It comes after Wellington's previous attempt at signing Michael Essien fell flat, but they remain firmly in the market for a big-name recruit at the right price.

Martins, 33, could fit the bill - although discussions between the club and his agent are believed to be at an embryonic stage.

The Nigerian international striker spent five seasons in the Italy's Serie A with Inter and three in the Premier League with Newcastle, while he also represented his country at the 2010 World Cup.

Martins might no longer boast the same electric pace he once had but recent statistics suggest he is still a potent goalscoring threat.

Martins scored 40 goals in 72 Major League Soccer appearances for Seattle Sounders, then moved to China, where he has netted 19 goals in 40 games.

He's been on the outer with Shenhua since tearing his hamstring in April and is keen to resume playing.

FFA has categorised Martins as a 'class B' marquee player, meaning they would contribute only a modest sum from the remainder of their $3 million marquee fund should the Phoenix agree to terms with him.

It's understood any deal would still come inside Wellington's salary cap.

The Phoenix face an uncertain future, with their A-League licence due to expire at the end of the 2019-20 season and hopes of an extension hinging on improved off-field 'metrics' like attendances and TV ratings.

Their sudden interest in marquee players like Essien and Martins suggests they will not go down without a fight.

Obafemi Martins celebrates a goal for Newcastle United with Steven Taylor.
Obafemi Martins celebrates a goal for Newcastle United with Steven Taylor. Source: Getty


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TVNZ FC: Neymar dives again, as the international break takes a new twist

Club football may currently be at a standstill thanks to the international break, but the same can't be said for everyone at TVNZ FC.

This week, Jack Tame is joined by the trio of Jack Mabire, Victor Waters and Simon Plumb, looking at the big issues in the world of football.

Following his World Cup theatrics, Neymar is up to his old tricks once again, caught diving in Brazil's latest friendly against the USA.

The boys look at the new UEFA Nations League, looking to put an end to meaningless friendlies once and for all.

And finally, the Wellington Phoenix have been linked to signing one of the world's best midfielders - about 10 years too late.

Club football is on a break, but we're not as Jack Tame and the boys discuss this week's issues. Source: 1 NEWS


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