NZ Football 'blindsided' by player mutiny, deny being slow to address concerns over Football Ferns’ welfare

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1 NEWS

New Zealand Football bosses fronted up over the Football Ferns scandal today, apparently 'blindsided' by the players' backlash over allegations of bullying by under-fire coach Andreas Heraf.

NZF boss Andy Martin feels the governing body reacted quickly after getting evidence of team culture issues.
Source: 1 NEWS

NZ Football CEO Andy Martin described the turn of events as a "shock".

"I think whilst there's been 13 letters in through the PFA criticising the environment, there has been other letters of support."

However, those letters weren’t enough to prevent Heraf from being put on leave as an inquiry gets underway.

NZF President Deryck Shaw says the independent investigation will help everyone.

"I think one of the things around this process is there's a process of natural justice for all the parties involved and the review will determine that."

On Monday, letters from Ferns' players were presented to the board - the most troubling allegations being intimidation and scare tactics used by Heraf.

Martin insists that's the first he's heard of any unrest, however 1 NEWS understands a long standing employee voiced concerns of player welfare to NZF management following the Spain tour earlier this year in March.

While a report on the tour was sent to Martin, the NZF boss admitted it was written by Heraf, doubling in his role as technical director.

Shortly after, that long-standing captain Abby Erceg announced her second retirement.

Martin denied NZF were slow to respond.

"I would disagree, it hasn't taken so long. Once we had the letter from the PFA with factual letters of evidence from players we've reacted very quickly,”

When questioned why the comments from a former captain who also happened to be the most capped player wasn't enough for NZF to look a little bit deeper, Martin argued action was taken.

"We looked in at that point but at that point we felt there was a disagreement in terms of the style of play and the way they wanted to operate and so that was always going to happen.”

The whole process took another turn today with the players’ association instructing NZF staffers to cease all communication with Ferns players.

1 NEWS has been told Heraf told stand-in captain Amber Hearn not to talk further.

It's now up to an independent reviewer, set to be appointed later this week, to untangle the mess New Zealand Football's finds itself in.

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