Australia coach Ange Postecoglou has retracted his criticism of Football Federation Australia (FFA) and condemned Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) for playing out a pay dispute ahead of World Cup qualifying.
FFA and PFA have openly criticised one another during the deadlocked negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement, with the players’ union ordering Socceroos stars to withdraw from commercial promotional events during the national team camp in Perth this week.
The war of words had been strongly condemned by Australia’s Asian Cup-winning coach, who made no attempt to play down its potentially detrimental impact ahead of matches at home to Bangladesh on Thursday and away to Tajikistan five days later.
“To me, the fact that both sides think that the best time to play it out is in the middle of a Socceroos camp, [it is] not good enough,” Postecoglou was quoted as saying by News Corp.
“I’m not happy it’s being played in Socceroos camp. I don’t have the players often and when I have them, that time’s precious and I don’t want a minute wasted.
“Of course it is [a distraction]. Everyone knows what’s going on. It’s affecting me.
“While the camps on, put everything else aside, lay down your guns, and pick ’em up as soon as it’s over and go as hard as you want.”
Despite being an FFA employee, the coach had initially targeted both factions over their public comments during the dispute.
“The fact that people think it’s ok to play out, both parties, whilst I have the players for absolutely limited amount of time. Maybe everyone thinks these games are going to be easy.
“I should be talking about team selection, team tactics, growth, qualifying for the next World Cup.”
However, it appears Postecoglou’s pay masters have been quick to lean on the former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory coach, prompting him to issue a retraction on Wednesday.
“As a senior employee of Football Federation Australia I understand that my comments were inappropriate,” he said in a statement.
“I appreciate that I need to take sides on this issue. The commercial performance of the Socceroos brand directly affects the amount of investment in the match schedule, technical developments and sports science staff.
“In this case, the commercial boycotts imposed by Professional Footballers Australia will directly affect commercial partners and will inevitably hurt the Socceroos program.
“I made comments yesterday out of frustration. I acknowledge that the PFA initiated the regrettable situation that has distracted us in Perth. I understand that FFA was compelled to respond in order to explain its position to the game’s stakeholders.
“I call on the PFA to undertake that no future Socceroo camp will be targeted in this way.”