Ex-New Zealand women's coach Andreas Heraf bullied players, review finds

A review found New Zealand women players were "bullied and harassed" by ex-coach Andreas Heraf. Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

New Zealand Football (NZF) has issued an apology after an independent review found women players had been "bullied and harassed" by ex-coach Andreas Heraf.

Heraf resigned from his post, having been placed on leave since June when NZF received letters from 13 players who said they would not play for the national team if he remained in charge.

Some of the letters alleged bullying and intimidation by Heraf, who also served as technical director of New Zealand Football.

The independent review, which interviewed Austria-born Heraf, 51, and the complainants, ruled that he had "offended, humiliated or intimidated" some of the players and staff.

The review was chaired by lawyer Phillipa Muir, who said the complaints voiced by players were "largely substantiated" and ruled that some of Heraf's behaviour had crossed a line between "robust coaching" and "bullying and harassment."

NZF president Deryck Shaw, responding to the findings, said the organisation was "deeply sorry that these events occurred" and apologised for distress they had caused.

"We apologise to our players for the conduct of the former head coach of the Football Ferns and failings in the organisation that led to this review," Shaw said.

The review hit out at NZF for lacking a diversity policy and having no women among its senior figures, with Muir saying there was "a perception of a 'boys' club' and a tolerance of inappropriate banter in parts of the organisation."