Ireland head coach Vera Pauw accuses FAI of ‘interference’ in parting shot | Republic of Ireland women’s football team

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The outgoing Republic of Ireland women’s coach, Vera Pauw, has claimed Football Association of Ireland (FAI) executives undermined her position by interfering in the running of the team in the buildup to the 2023 World Cup.

After this week’s announcement that the Dutch coach’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 and that “the outcome was pre-determined”.

In a lengthy statement reflecting on “four wonderful years” in the job, Pauw claimed she had begun talks over a contract extension in March. The 60-year-old also alleged the FAI “committed to issuing an offer to me” only to reconsider.

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

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Ireland’s qualification for the tournament also led to a renewed focus on allegations –which Pauw strongly denies – of bullying and belittling behaviour during her time at Houston Dash, 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,” she continued. “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.

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“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 team-building process.”

Ireland’s World Cup campaign ended in the group stage after defeats to Canada and Australia, and a goalless draw with Nigeria. Pauw admitted to a disagreement with McCabe over substitutions during their final match, saying: “If Katie McCabe says that she wants a change, that doesn’t mean she’s the coach.”

Pauw added that she had previously been very happy in her role and had been eager 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.

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“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.”

Pauw ended her statement by saying: “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 have been contacted for comment by PA Media, and have not made any public response at time of writing.

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