Players of the Solvenian women’s national team are calling for their head coach to be fired for perpetuating a culture of harassment.
In an open letter addressed to the president of the Football Association of Slovenia (NZS) in July, signed by 31 players, they detail a toxic culture in which the coaching staff interferes in their personal lives, makes “inappropriate, homophobic, and even racist comments” in regard to their choice of partners, body and weight shames players, and more.
Some players said they had even sought professional psychological help to deal with the intimidation and bullying they have experienced from the coaching staff, headed by manager Borut Jarc.
Other allegations, per the letter, include coaches smuggling alcohol into camp, goalkeeping coach Danilo Sergaš sending inappropriate messages to players, and assistant coach Milomir Kondić making derogatory comments about women’s soccer in Slovenia on social media.
“You’re just taking it because you want to be part of the national team because you want to play and represent your country,” midfielder Dominika Čonč told Josimar Football. “It’s disrespectful, but you’re just taking those things because, obviously in this case, a man’s power over you as a woman is just, you know, it’s big.”
In response to the letter, NZS backed the coaching staff in a statement of its own.
NZS president Radenko Mijatović told Josimar that the federation has set up a committee to investigate the allegations.
“The players are protesting,” Mijatović said. “We are trying to find facts and then we will discuss it with them and hopefully we will find a solution.”
FIFPRO, the world soccer players’ union, declared its support for the players in a statement and urged NZS to take their concerns and requests seriously.
Slovenia is set to play in the UEFA Women’s Nations League tournament later this month, in hopes of qualifying for the 2025 European Championships. The team missed out on a spot in the 2023 Women’s World Cup after drawing Wales last September.
Slovenia’s calls for reform come amid multiple international conflicts between players and their national federations over compensation and treatment, including World Cup champions Spain.