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Phoenix Reject Claims of Team Culture Issues in Women’s a League Side

Wellington Phoenix captain Annalie Longo has denied there are cultural issues in the A-League women’s team after the surprise departure of vice captain Chloe Knott.

Knott abruptly quit the team last week citing concerns over pay and took to social media to outline that it had “become clear that my values no longer align with the club or current management”.

“It is important for me to be in an environment that prioritises honesty, authenticity, and a genuine care for every individual and their development on and off the field,” Knott wrote.

Longo said she was shocked to read Knott’s reasoning for leaving the Phoenix a team the experienced midfielder had not missed a game for since the side’s inception in 2021.

“First I look at myself and what I do in leading the group this season and the group around me and it’s never nice to read those things on social media,” Longo said.

“So for us it is first that reflection piece and looking internally, what can we change, are things right, can we do things differently and the one thing I will say about [Knott’s] comment is we’ll always fight for more and I appreciate what Chloe has done in coming out and being brave and fighting for more and that’s what we want.”

Longo was not aware of the extent of Knott’s concerns and she said the two had not spoken about it before Knott left.

“There was a few comments and we had conversations in pre-season and I thought we’d managed to iron out and for me I thought we were connected and gelled and i thought she was outstanding on Saturday in what turned out to be her final game and we had no idea.

“I am glad she got a nice finish from the Phoenix and football.”

Longo said dealing with Knott’s departure had been a challenge for her as a leader.

“The most important thing for me is making sure our culture and connection is there and I want people to feel valued and part of the group and they have a voice and I want us to fight for equality … so for me it is making sure voices are heard that we come together and that we unite and then put that performance out on to the field because that’s the most important part.”

This season’s team was closer off the field than they had been in previous seasons according to Longo.

Knott had wanted her departure to create “conversation about the experience that professional footballers are having at their clubs.”

“I hope that this can be a catalyst for systemic cultural change within the club and particularly the women’s game,” Knott wrote. The third placed Phoenix’s next challenge is against Melbourne Victory in Wellington on Sunday.

Source: RNZ