Vera Pauw. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
breaking silence

Vera Pauw slams the FAI, says World Cup review was 'flawed' and its outcome 'pre-determined'

Pauw has issued a statement, claiming she was undermined by FAI executives during the World Cup.

VERA PAUW HAS spoken for the first time since the FAI decided not to renew her contract as Ireland manager, claiming the Association’s review of the World Cup that led to her exit was “flawed” and with a “pre-determined outcome.”

The review was led by director of football Marc Canham, and covered all aspects of the World Cup campaign, including qualifying. It sought input from Pauw, her staff, and a selection of players. Following its presentation to the FAI board on Tuesday night, the board decided that Pauw’s contract would not be reviewed.

Pauw, however, wanted to stay on in the role. In today’s statement, she accuses FAI executives of undermining her role as manager during the World Cup, saying they “effectively took my seat and spoke to staff members and players regarding their roles in the team before and after the World Cup.”

She says her views were often “disregarded and not respected”, saying “in my opinion, no head coach in the world would accept interference.”

She says that trust broke down between her and senior figures at the FAI, and that she requested that her contract situation be finalised before the World Cup started in Australia, which ultimately did not happen, as, according to Pauw, the FAI re-stated their position. 

Pauw says that she believes that the FAI made some “major mistakes” by “directly overruling the tasks of the coach” following the publication of an article in the Athletic in July. The article featured anonymous contributions from four players and three staff members who worked with Vera Pauw at Houston Dash in 2018, who accused her of creating a “culture of fear”, controlling behaviour and making inappropriate comments about a player’s weight and appearance. Pauw rejected these accusations. 

The FAI are not expected to respond publicly to Pauw’s statement until CEO Jonathan Hill speaks to the media after next week’s men’s international matches. 

Vera Pauw Statement 

I have enjoyed four wonderful years working as Head Coach of the Republic of Ireland Senior International Women’s Team.

I have had the opportunity to work with excellent colleagues and players during that time and have truly loved the experiences we have had together and what we have achieved over that time. To have qualified for our first World Cup was a true reflection of our progress and was an historic achievement shared by us all. I am so proud of our campaign, from our first qualifying game through to our final match at the World Cup finals. It is hopefully only the start of much more to come.

While we had hoped for better results on the pitch in Australia, even when faced with our biggest opponents, we demonstrated our growth and our ability to compete at the world’s highest level. As an elite coach, losing never sits well with me, but the immense support and congratulations that I have received on our campaign coming from all over the world will have a long-lasting influence on me.

The Irish people have been so welcoming and supportive of me from the day I arrived here, and I have been very happy and always felt extremely safe in Ireland. I will never forget the warmth the Irish people have shown towards me and a part of me will always feel Irish from here on! To have been asked to be the Grand Marshall at the St Patrick’s Day parade earlier this year was such an honour for me and will remain a highlight of my life.

The Irish fans are rightly recognised all over the world for their fantastic support and the way they have been behind this team, both at home and away, has been remarkable. In Australia, there were thousands of Irish fans in the stadiums, on the streets, at the airport or singing in the pubs. We had a very special homecoming in Dublin. I knew that this was a goodbye from me to all the people in Ireland who have actively supported me. It was not a sad moment rather it felt like a celebration of our connection. It is great to see the growth in and enthusiasm for women’s football in Ireland and the way the fans have shared in our journey.

I am conscious that there has been a lot of noise in recent times around my contract and I believe I should make some brief comment.

I said before the World Cup that I was extremely happy in Ireland and that it was my desire to continue in my role. I entered into discussions with the FAI to extend my contract back in early March and was confident that this process could be concluded quickly. At that time I asked Ciarán Medlar to assist me and the process duly began. The FAI also expressed their commitment to this outcome and worked with my representative to bring this to a conclusion. 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 re-considered their stated position and I never received the promised offer. I parked the contract discussions while we were in Australia, as my sole focus was the team and the competition.

Following the article which appeared in The Athletic at the start of July, which included allegations I absolutely refute, I believe the FAI made some major mistakes by directly overruling the tasks of the coach.

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. 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. That is perhaps for another day.

However, 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.

This team will only grow. Better structures are now in place, facilities have improved, stability is secured and the players are ready to face any challenge. I am confident that women’s football in Ireland will go from strength to strength.

Thank you all so much for making my time in Ireland unforgettable!

I wish continued success to this team. I will be watching closely.



With reporting by David Sneyd 

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