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Football Ferns’ leaked letter states there is a ‘recovery process’

NZ Football has brought in independent facilitators in a bid to mend rifts in the Football Ferns squad – weeks after the Olympic campaign.

The move is outlined in a letter NZ Football CEO Andrew Pragnell sent to players following an employment investigation into coach Jitka Klimkova.

The details of what prompted the investigation and its final findings have been kept secret by NZ Football. The sudden departure and re-emergence of Klimkova in the Varenkamp was communicated through tightly worded statements.

However, Pragnell’s letter to players – leaked to RNZ – suggests the fallout from the investigation is still having an impact on the team environment just weeks after the start of the Olympics.

Pragnell invites the players and team management to engage in a “recovery process” in an effort to “build or rebuild constructive relationships.”

“There are many people in the area who want (to work) towards a more cohesive and high-quality environment based on a lot of trust,” Pragnell wrote.

“Despite the work the team and staff have put into this area over the past nine months, there is still more work to be done. To this end, NZF and NZPFA (NZ Professional Footballers’ Association) have agreed to provide a recovery process with trained, independent players.” facilitators to help build relationships with some players and staff.”

Pragnell added that the process was “voluntary” and there was no requirement for players to be involved.

“A recovery process seeks to build or rebuild constructive working relationships. In this first phase of a process, the facilitators would have preliminary meetings with people who are interested, on an individual and confidential basis,” the letter said.

“This meeting would be an opportunity for the facilitators to explain these principles, to hear about your experiences and perspective and to explore with you what type of process can meet your needs and provide a safe, respectful and accessible process for you could be.”

NZ Football declined to answer questions about specific interventions in the Ferns’ environment, but said in a statement that “a strong culture is central to all our teams”.

“New Zealand Football offers a range of services to our top players and staff to ensure they are in the best place to perform on the international stage.”

Cloud over the Olympic campaign

The team has little time to rebuild team culture in the run-up to next month’s Olympic Games. The group matches, which will be played at various locations in France, start on July 24 – two days before the opening ceremony.

The squad for the Games is expected to be announced early next month, but NZ Football confirmed no player had ruled themselves out of selection contention in the fallout from the investigation.

The problems in the Ferns camp first came to light last month during the team’s tour to Spain for a pair of friendlies against Japan, when NZ Football announced Klimkova had taken a leave of absence while an employment investigation was underway.

In Klimkova’s absence, assistant coach Michael Mayne took charge of the matches against Japan, where the Ferns suffered 2-0 and 4-1 defeats to the world number seven.

Less than two weeks later, NZ Football released a statement announcing that Klimkova would return to the role of head coach “with immediate effect” following the conclusion of the employment investigation.

In his letter to the Ferns squad, Pragnell gave players no further insight into the investigation’s findings.

“As you will appreciate, the terms of this lawsuit are strictly bound by confidentiality agreements which, if breached, would have significant consequences for the parties involved.

“Therefore, not much further can be reported at this stage, but the NZF has treated this matter very seriously, retaining independent expertise to investigate a complaint and following legal advice and due process with the support of the NZ Professional Footballers’ Association. the route.”

NZPFA general manager Jacob Spoonley declined to comment on the investigation.

“Everything was done respectfully behind closed doors,” he said.

rnz.co.nz

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