New Zealand Football have been told to stop contacting players from the Football Ferns squad, with immediate effect, over concerns that the staff from the governing body has tried to shut down complaints and allegations about Andreas Heraf.
It's another major twist in the ongoing saga, which has seen at least 10 players write letters of complaint to NZF around the conduct and behavior of Ferns coach Andreas Heraf.
The Herald understands the Players Union (New Zealand Professional Footballers Association) has sent a strongly worded letter to NZF, instructing it to discontinue any communications with players.
In Union parlance, it's similar to a 'cease and desist' order.
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This has arisen out of concerns that Heraf, along with other NZF staff members, had been contacting players over the last week to dissuade them from making any statements, once rumours had begun to surface of potential player's actions, which culminated in the letters.
It's believed that Heraf – and other staff members – had called individual players asking them if they were intending to write letters or issue any kind of formal complaints.
It's understood that if they answered in the affirmative, the players were strongly encouraged not to, with one NZF staff member allegedly telling a player to avoid being part of this "conspiracy theory"
The alleged phone calls were made by Heraf, as well as other NZF staff members.
It's not yet known if CEO Andy Martin was aware of the phone calls, or made any phone calls himself.
Last Thursday Martin insisted to media there were no issues in the Football Ferns environment, and fully endorsed Andreas Heraf.
The CEO also said that he had been in touch with senior players from the team, who had assured him there were no issues in the environment.
Representatives from the NZPFA were unavailable for comment on Wednesday.
Martin and Heraf were also unavailable, ahead of a press conference at NZF this afternoon.
It's not yet known what action NZF will take, but as reported by the Herald yesterday, it's expected that Heraf will at the least be suspended from his role, pending an independent investigation.
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