WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — An independent report has found the former head coach of the New Zealand women's football team bullied, offended and humiliated players and that New Zealand Football shares responsibility for his behavior.
Andreas Heraf, a former Austria midfielder, left his position in July after more 12 players wrote letters to NZF through the New Zealand players' union to complain about his conduct.
A report released Wednesday found complaints against Heraf by players and team staff were "genuine and largely substantiated."
Investigating lawyer Phillipa Muir found Heraf "engaged in repeated and unreasonable behavior towards a number of the players and staff and they were (and many remain) distressed and humiliated by what occurred." She found Heraf's behavior constituted bullying under New Zealand's employment law and breached NZF's code of conduct.
"The harassment was not sexual in any form and it wasn't assault. But it was raised voices, it was yelling, it was intimidation, it was repeated," Muir said.
Muir found NZF failed to protect players.
"There has not been sufficient focus by the organization on player welfare," she said. "There is a perception both internally and externally by some that NZF is a boys club."
Only 21 percent of NZF's employees are female.
NZF president Deryck Shaw apologized to the players.
"We are deeply sorry that these events occurred and for the distress caused," Shaw said.