Vera Pauw has released her statement following the decision not to renew her contract and it is a delicate mix of support for the future of Women’s football in Ireland, gratitude and genuine affection for her time here, and criticism of the closing chapter.
Naturally enough the headlines have focused on the discord and he contention that trust had broken down with FAI Officials who she clearly feels did not treat her fairly in the final run to the World Cup Finals, through the tournament and in the manner of the ending of the relationship.
But that is prefaced by the genuine affection she has expressed for the people and the sport here, the welcome she was afforded and the achievement that was qualification for a first major finals.
She speaks of this only being the start of greater things to come and that itself is magnanimous towards those “excellent colleagues and players” she has worked with.
She feels wronged citing ‘some major mistakes’ she believes the FAI made in the immediate foreground of the World Cup. The emotion that Pauw displayed at the time of naming her squad was clearly compounded by a sense at the time that the relationship had changed.
The statement was issued last night by BDO and she pays tribute to Ciaran Medlar for his work as her representative. Medlar heads the Sports and Advisory team in BDO and is also the Chair of Shamrock Rovers.
The measured tone of the statement will have doubtless come through numerous revisions over the previous 24 hours and longer.
It could have been angrier, more scattered in criticism, or it could have been left unsaid, creating a vacuum into which the recruitment of a replacement, the moving on of Pauw herself and the team would have been more difficult.
In that, among many other elements of her reign, we do owe her a debt of gratitude.
There were undoubtedly issues in the relationships that formed between administration, management, and player groups.
Elite sport is a brutal world at times and a delicate one to balance between all those who play a part.
Her name is etched deep in the period when Irish Women’s Football stepped up to another level. She did not do it alone nor could she have without a whole team effort.
That both sides recognise this will allow for a healing of the wounds that are still raw and the hope that in time she will be a welcome visitor back to the hearth and home of Ireland that has clearly impacted as much on her as she has on it in a football context.
Here is the statement in full issued by BDO just before 6 PM on Thursday, August 31st.
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 team building 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.