Hockey Australia chief executive Favier commits to “necessary action” on completion of inquiry into “toxic” culture

Hockey Australia chief executive Matt Favier committed to “take the necessary action” once the inquiry into allegations of a “toxic” culture has been completed.

Hockey Australia chief executive Matt Favier committed to “take the necessary action” after allegations of a “toxic” culture ©Sport Australia

An independent inquiry into allegations of a “toxic” culture within women’s hockey in Australia was launched in November by the governing body.

The inquiry was launched amid claims that around half of the Australian women’s hockey squad were considering a strike, just months before the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The axing of 2019 International Hockey Federation goalkeeper of the year Rachael Lynch and former captain Georgina Morgan from the 2021 squad was cited as a key reason.

It has been reported the Australian side, ranked second in the world, have grown increasingly frustrated and angry at officials, including high-performance director Toni Cumpston.

In comments to Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Favier backed Cumpston.

“In all sports there are tensions from time to time between leaders and players,” he said.

“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.”

There were also individual complaints of bullying, body-shaming, the development of serious eating disorders and unfair team selections.

Matt Favier backed Hockey Australia high-performance director Toni Cumpston ©Hockey Australia

Favier claimed he was restricted by what he could say on the individual complaints, but touched on the bullying allegations and said Hockey Australia would “take the necessary action.”

“It can be difficult providing feedback to players along the way,” he said.

“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.”

Members of the Australian women’s hockey team are allegedly considering strike action due to the “toxic” culture ©Getty Images

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.  

“I believe some of the comments made relate to previous cycles,” Favier said.

“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 Ernst & Young.

Findings and recommendations are reportedly expected by early February.

Australia has won three Olympic gold medals in women’s hockey, the last coming on home soil at Sydney 2000.

The Hockeyroos also finished second in the inaugural edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League in 2019.

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

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