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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