July 19, 2020 / 1:36 AM / 24 days ago

Soccer-Australia women's coach Milicic steps down due to Olympics delay

SYDNEY, July 19 (Reuters) - Australia women's soccer coach Ante Milicic has stepped down from his role because of the delay of the Tokyo Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Football Federation Australia (FFA) said on Sunday.

Milicic had been contracted to the Matildas until after the Games, which were to have been held this summer. He agreed in May last year to lead A-League expansion club Macarthur FC, who are scheduled to join the Australian competition in the 2020/21 season.

The Tokyo Olympics are now due to be held from July 21 until Aug. 8, 2021, and there was some debate earlier this year as to whether Milicic would continue with the Matildas for another year.

"The unfortunate rescheduling of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to July-August next year has meant that a decision had to be reached," FFA Chief Executive Officer James Johnson said in a statement.

"FFA and Ante agree that overseeing two elite teams is not a workable solution, with both programs deserving of, and requiring, complete focus."

Milicic was appointed to the Matildas role in early 2019 and led them to the Round of 16 at last year's Women's World Cup in France.

The 46-year-old said he was disappointed to have to resign but felt he had to honour the commitment he had made to the new club.

"In an ideal world, we would have been in Japan right now just days away from the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Milicic said.

"Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rescheduling of the Games has created the unenviable situation where people will assess whether I have chosen one team over another.

"Truth be told, I have simply chosen to honour the commitment I made to Macarthur over a year ago." (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by William Mallard)

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