Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf placed on 'special leave' as independent review launched following player mutiny

Under-fire Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf has been placed on special leave after New Zealand Football announced there would be an independent investigation into the Austrian manager's behaviour and its effects on team culture.

Andreas Heraf says injuries and an eye to the future drove his ultra-defensive strategy against Japan. Source: 1 NEWS

NZF confirmed at a press conference in Auckland this afternoon Heraf would be investigated after the governing body received written complaints from squad members.

An independent investigator will be appointed by the NZF executive committee in association with the NZ Professional Footballers Association to review the environment within the women's national team.

Heraf has been given notice of the investigation with a proposal for suspension but in the meantime is on special leave with immediate effect from both his roles as the Football Ferns' manager and NZF technical director.

"We are very disappointed to be in a position where some of the players from within the Football Ferns have felt the need to formally lodge a complaint with NZ Football and would like to thank them for coming forward," NZF President Deryck Shaw said.

"We hold player welfare as a matter of utmost importance and that is why we are conducting a thorough, independent review. We want to ensure we better understand these issues in an objective review. There is no place for inappropriate behaviour of any kind in New Zealand Football."

After Heraf criticised his players following their 3-1 loss to Japan in Wellington earlier this month, it is understood that at least 10 players have penned letters about the conduct of the Austrian.

Allegations against Heraf include incidents of intimidation and scare tactics while on the Spain tour earlier this year as well as in the build-up to the Wellington friendly, which created a miserable team environment.

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.

Heraf told 1 NEWS earlier this month critics were not seeing the big picture in his approach.

"We have 360 days to go until our first game (at the World Cup) and we have to work on all these different areas to be ready.

"That was only one step on our way but the people, of course, they haven't seen the whole process, they've seen one game so they're disappointed and upset - I feel sorry for that - but it's a part of our process and we have to go that way."

The review will commence this week with the appointment of an independent investigator.

NZF President Deryck Shaw said controversial coach Andreas Heraf has gone on "special leave" while the investigation is carried out. Source: 1 NEWS


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Former Premier League striker rejects offer to join rebuilding Wellington Phoenix

The Wellington Phoenix are back to recruiting players after their latest attempt to sign another former Premier League player fell through.

The Kiwi club was in talks with veteran Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins after he had been frozen out by his Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua following a serious injury in April.

But Martins has decided to focus on recovery from his torn hamstring instead of signing with a new team.

"I've spoken with Obafemi and he just wants to continue to rehabilitate from his injury in the UK for the time being," his agent Ante Alilovic told SBS.

"He's told me he wants to hold off until January (to make a decision on his future).

"I don't think the A-League is a serious option in terms of what he can earn elsewhere. He won't be coming to Australia and I think he sees his future remaining in China."

Martins played five seasons for Inter Milan from 2001-2006 before moving to the Premier League, making 88 appearances in three years for Newcastle United. More recently, Martins has played in Major League Soccer before joining Shanghai.

It's a blow for the Wellington club who received a green light from Football Federation Australia to pursue the 33-year-old with a marquee contract, meaning they would contribute from their own funds to help the Phoenix get his signature on the dotted line.

It marks the second failed attempt to find a marquee player after reported negotiations between former Chelsea star Michael Essien and Phoenix broke down prior to their pursuit of Martins.

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: Return of the Champions League and this is Zlatan's world, we just live in it

TVNZ FC is back for another week, with plenty to talk about from the world of football.

This week, Jack Tame is joined by Victor Waters and Simon Plumb, as Europe's elite welcomed the return of the Champions League.

Elsewhere, Liverpool and Chelsea keep their 100 per cent winning starts to the Premier League alive, while Cristiano Ronaldo finally breaks his duck in Italy.

Jumping across the pond, Zlatan Ibrahimovic notched his 500th career goal in the only way he knows how, firing home an audacious karate-kick for the LA Galaxy against Toronto FC.

And finally, our very own Victor finds himself at the centre of a movement to bring a former Newcastle and Inter Milan star down under to the Wellington Phoenix.

Jack Tame leads TVNZ's football gurus to discuss this week's action. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: Stunning late goal gives Liverpool dramatic Champions League victory over PSG

Roberto Firmino had an eye for goal just when Liverpool needed a winner against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

Liverpool had thrown away a two-goal lead at Anfield today, with Kylian Mbappe striking an 83rd-minute equaliser, but the French World Cup star's carelessness at the other end proved costly for PSG in stoppage time.

Mbappe was dispossessed by James Milner, giving Liverpool a final chance to attack the visiting goal.

Firmino, who only came on in the second half after scratching his eye in Sunday's victory at Tottenham, found the space to weave through the PSG defence and strike the ball low into the net to seal a 3-2 victory.

For his celebration, the Brazilian covered his left eye as teammates leapt on him.

It made for painful viewing for PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, who had seen similar scenes before.

As Borussia Dortmund coach, Tuchel's side also conceded in the first minute of stoppage time at Anfield to go out of the Europa League in the quarterfinals in 2016.

The stakes weren't as high this time. This was only the opening game in Group C of the Champions League and PSG has five games to secure one of the top two places to advance to the round of 16.

But four months after losing last season's final, Liverpool showed they might be capable of challenging for the title once again by finding a way to tame Neymar and Mbappe for much of the game.

An emphatic start saw Daniel Sturridge score the opener in the 30th minute and Milner double the lead from the penalty spot six minutes later.

But having failed to turn their dominance into more goals, Liverpool conceded before halftime when Thomas Meunier sliced into the net.

And Liverpool was left reeling when Mohamed Salah misplaced a pass that allowed Neymar to carry the ball forward and Mbappe to produce the equaliser.

Salah was brought off two minutes later, and found his own curious way to celebrate Firmino's winning goal.

The Egypt forward threw a water bottle at the ground looking far from happy.


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Inter Milan star fires home brilliant volley as Tottenham snatch Champions League defeat from jaws of victory

Inter Milan scored two late goals, including a stoppage-time winner, to mark their return to the Champions League with a 2-1 comeback victory against Tottenham this morning.

Inter's first game in the competition since 2012 looked set to end in disappointment when Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen's shot took a lucky deflection and looped into the net in the 53rd minute.

But Mauro Icardi equalised with a perfectly struck volley in the 86th and Vecino headed in the winner in injury time to send the San Siro wild.

Tottenham fell to their third straight loss in all competitions despite taking the lead somewhat against the run of play.

Eriksen's initial shot was parried by Samir Handanovic but the Inter defense failed to clear the danger.

The ball came back to the Denmark international and his second attempt took a huge deflection off Joao Miranda and floated over Handanovic.

However, Icardi pounced four minutes from time with a powerful volley into the bottom corner from 20 yards out.

That inspired Inter and they poured forward. After earlier chances to snatch the winner, a corner was nodded on to Vecino who headed in in the second minute of stoppage time.

Meanwhile, Harry Kane's post-World Cup struggles continued.

Kane was the top scorer at the tournament in Russia with six goals in England's run to the semifinals, but the 25-year-old has not found the back of the net since a 3-0 victory over Manchester United last month.

He went closest in the 37th minute as he sprung the offside trap to meet Eriksen's ball over the top but Handanovic forced the England forward wide and he couldn't find the angle to shoot.


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