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Hockey Australia Chief Executive commits to act on review into ‘toxic’ culture

Hockey Australia Chief Executive commits to act on review into ‘toxic’ culture
December 13, 2020
Sport /

Hockey Australia Chief Executive Matt Favier has committed to "take the necessary action" once an independent inquiry into allegations of bullying and body-shaming within women's hockey in Australia is completed.

An independent inquiry into allegations of a "toxic" culture within elite women's hockey in November amid claims that members of the Australian women's hockey squad were considering a strike, just months before the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

In his first comments since the crisis was revealed, Favier vowed to act on any recommendations the report reveals in the new year.

However, in comments to Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph, he slammed reports of intimidation and stringing criticism aimed at controversial High-Performance Director Toni Cumpston among others on the elite coaching staff.

Favier advised “in all sports there are tensions from time to time between leaders and players.

“Toni is highly experienced and has a strong background in hockey. I think she provides excellent leadership in my opinion, but that’s not to say everybody will agree.”

On cmplaints of bullying, body-shaming, the development of serious eating disorders and unfair team selections

Favier claimed he was restricted by what he could say on individual complaints, but said Hockey Australia would "take the necessary action", adding “one of the challenges we are dealing with is having a high-performance conversation with the idea of supporting player development and seeking improvement while being careful not to confuse that with allegations of bullying levelled towards us.

“We have to also bear in mind we’re in an elite high-performance group. Sometimes, there can be some confusion along the way.

“There are fine lines we have to be careful to navigate. We’ve attempted to be very sensitive to this particular matter.

“It’s not to say we’ve got it right. The inquiry will uncover the details and the board is committed to acting on all the recommendations.

“We care about the players and the impact this is having on them. All players. The good and the bad. And we’ll take the necessary action once the report is complete.”

Favier added there was confusion about the complaints and the era they related to, with the staff surrounding the Australian women's hockey team only in place since the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

He went on to say "I believe some of the comments made relate to previous cycles.

"We’ve taken significant steps since Rio where there was absolutely a range of concerning behaviour by the leadership and coaching team.

"We acted on the recommendations that came out of that review."

It was recently reported that Hockey Australia had been aware of concerns from members of their women's squad regarding the leadership of the team as far back as 2017.

Richard Redman, the Manager of the Australian Institute of Sport's conduct and professionalism team, is leading the inquiry with Adam Carrel, a partner at consultants Ernst & Young.

Findings and recommendations are reportedly expected by early February.

Australia booked a place at Tokyo 2020, postponed to next year because of the Coronavirus pandemic, through the Olympic qualifiers.

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