Football/Soccer

Vera Pauw: FAI executives undermined my position as Republic of Ireland coach

Ian Parker, PA

Outgoing Republic of Ireland women’s coach Vera Pauw has claimed Football Association of Ireland executives undermined her position by interfering in the running of the team in the build-up to the World Cup.

After this week’s announcement that the Dutchwoman’s contract would not be renewed with Eileen Gleeson taking over in an interim role, Pauw issued a statement in which she said the FAI had conducted a “flawed” review into the World Cup campaign in which “the outcome was pre-determined”.

In a lengthy statement reflecting on “four wonderful years” in the job, Pauw said she had begun talks over a contract extension in March, with the FAI “committing to issuing an offer to me” only for the association to reconsider.

Pauw, 60, took charge of the team in 2019 and led them to a first World Cup appearance this summer, but she went into the tournament amid rumours of disquiet within the camp as a number of players declined to support her approach publicly, and reports of a strained relationship with captain Katie McCabe.

There was also a renewed focus on allegations – which Pauw strongly denies – of bullying and belittling behaviour during her time in Houston, for which she was sanctioned by the NSWL earlier this year.

Pauw said there had been a change in attitude from the FAI after The Athletic published an article in July regarding those allegations.

“My position became very challenging when executives in the FAI, not technical football coaches, effectively took my seat and spoke to staff members and players regarding their roles in the team before and after the World Cup,” Pauw said.

“My advice – coming from my knowledge and experience – was often disregarded and not respected. In my opinion, no head coach in the world would accept interference of the executives in technical football affairs.

“Unfortunately, trust broke down between me and certain people in the FAI. I believe that the review process which the Association has carried out was flawed and that the outcome was pre-determined.

“Indeed, some discussions were held with players and staff before and during the World Cup which undermined my position and had an impact on our teambuilding process.”

Pauw said she had previously been very happy in her role and had been keen to agree a contract extension.

“The FAI also expressed their commitment to this outcome and worked with my representative to bring this to a conclusion,” she said. “I requested that their decision, whatever that may be, would be finalised at the very latest before we went to Australia.

“Despite committing to issuing an offer to me, the FAI reconsidered their stated position and I never received the promised offer.”

However, Pauw added: “I do not leave with any regrets and my overriding emotions today are of happiness and pride to have played a part in the wonderful journey of this team over the last four years.”

The FAI has been contacted for comment.

Football/Soccer