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Racism row: McGuire faces investigation

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McGuire explains King Kong 'slip of the tongue'

"I wasn't even thinking," says Collingwood president Eddie McGuire after apologising to Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes over his King Kong comment made on live radio.

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Eddie McGuire faces an AFL racial vilification investigation following his derogatory remarks about Swans star Adam Goodes.

The AFL confirmed on Wednesday night the Collingwood president's comments, which suggested the promoters of the musical King Kong use Goodes to publicise the show, fell under the code's racial and religious vilification policy, and McGuire, despite his position as a club president, was not immune.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou described McGuire's comments as ''extremely disappointing and unacceptable''. Swans chairman Richard Colless described McGuire's remarks as bewildering and crass.

''It has cut me to the core. I put my foot in it": Eddie McGuire.

''It has cut me to the core. I put my foot in it": Eddie McGuire. Photo: Pat Scala

''I think Eddie's going to have to live with this for a long time,'' Colless said.

By yesterday afternoon, Goodes had accepted McGuire's personal apology. However, Colless added of the Swans' dual Brownlow medallist: ''I don't think that should in any way underestimate the pain he's going through.''

McGuire also made a public apology of sorts, saying: ''It has cut me to the core. I put my foot in it. I'm happy to cop any criticism. I could not be more sorry. I did the wrong thing, not intentionally, but nevertheless it caused hurt.''

Later on Wednesday night McGuire said he would gladly take whatever sanction came his way, or step down from his Collingwood and media positions while the AFL process took place.

‘‘If that’s appropriate, if that’s symbolic, that makes a difference, then I will, I’d have no problem with that,’’ he told Fox Footy’s AFL 360 program.

‘‘I’d have no problem if Triple-M said have a spell, if Fox Footy said we don’t want you to be the face of footy this weekend, maybe have a spell.

‘‘I would happily do that and I’d cop that blemish on my impeccable record.’’

McGuire said he hadn’t had time to fully consider whether he should remain as Magpies president, although he indicated he would.

It capped an extraordinary turn of events just five days after McGuire apologised to Goodes and the Swans onbehalf of Collingwood after a Magpies fan racially vilified Goodes during a match on Friday night.

Demetriou said: ''Mr McGuire's ill-judged comments have clearly compounded the hurt caused to Mr Goodes by the incident last Friday night.''

The fallout from Wednesday's events will likely continue internally at Collingwood, with Magpies player Harry O’Brien sending several tweets expressing anger at McGuire, including: ‘‘It doesn’t matter if you are a school teacher, a doctor or even the president of my football club I will not tolerate racism, nor should we as a society’’. 

Colless was equally baffled. He had hoped the incident on Friday would serve as ‘‘a seminal moment in bridging the divide between black and white’’. However, that moment had been lost.

‘‘White Australians must understand that there are things that cause grievous emotional pain to indigenous Australians, and we think in a way a lot of that’s been undone five days later,’’ Colless said.

He said Goodes had been left in a ‘‘more emotional state as a consequence of this than was the case on Friday’’, as Swans coach John Longmire emphasised that the most important thing was to consider the player’s welfare.‘‘I think it’s about Adam and how he feels,’’ Longmire said. ‘‘And he was extremely disappointed.’’ 

Longmire said that after Goodes spoke to McGuire, the player’s focus was to ensure that ‘‘hopefully some good will come out of it’’. The exchange between McGuire and the Swans began shortly after the offending comments were made early in the day, when Colless sent a text message to McGuire saying: ‘‘I think we need to talk urgently. You know what I’m talking about. This is a very serious matter.’’

McGuire responded quickly. ‘‘I opened the discussion by saying ‘What were you thinking?’’’ Colless said. McGuire told Colless he believed the transcript took the comments out of context.

‘‘I just said, ‘I don’t think you’ve got anywhere to go on this. How can we defend a comment as crass as the one that you’ve made?’’’ Colless told McGuire.  

Colless sensed that McGuire soon understood the gravity of the situation.‘‘I’d like to think, giving Eddie the benefit of the doubt, that it was an absolute slip of the tongue,’’ he said. ‘‘But he’s not a novice. He’s been doing it professionally for 20 years. That’s why I guess we remain bewildered.’’

Asked if it was worse that Friday’s incident was by a 13-year-old girl and this was by an AFL club president, Colless said: ‘‘If Adam hadn’t basically forgiven Eddie, I might give you a different answer. But I think he’s chosen to move on.’’

Asked if McGuire should stand down from his post, he said: ‘‘I don’t think so. I think the fact that Adam has unbelievably, in my opinion, graciously accepted Eddie’s apology, it’s almost a closed matter.’’

- with AAP

17 comments so far

  • The irony of this entire situation is so sad. It never occurred to these men that perhaps the very reason this little girl made a racist slur is because her heroes in the blokey culture of football have a known history of racist sledging themselves? This child has apparently been watching and learning. What a disgrace that thus far she's been more severely punished and humiliated than the privileged adult men she emulates. It speaks volumes about the boys club football culture of protection, cover up and denial that created the problem in the first place.

    Date and time
    May 30, 2013, 9:50AM
    • Mel, your comment stinks of anti-maleness. Before commenting you should think about what you write. This is not about gender. She was dealt with justly.

      Date and time
      May 30, 2013, 11:03AM
  • I am not an Eddy McGuire fan but all this crap over a Joke is over the top and Goodes must have skin as thin as toilet paper if these comments in the last few days have upset him, this racialist thing has gone well over the top the British were called Pommy's the Dutch were called Wooden Boots and the Germans called Square Heads and these people just excepted it and got on with life, and all can say is that if Goodes and the like are getting upset over racialist comments they are just going to have to live with it because racialism is alive and well and it ain't going away any time soon

    Date and time
    May 30, 2013, 10:35AM
    • This is the problem, mick! You, and many like you, don't see any harm in these incidents...mainly because there is little consequence to it, in Australia. You don't understand what racism is...because you have never experienced it. Go to the USA my friend, and call a black man an "ape" ... then you will learn what the consequences of racism are !!!

      Date and time
      May 30, 2013, 11:48AM
    • Mick, and Italians were called Wogs. And guess what? They were offended. Just like when we called Aboriginals "Abos" or "Coons".

      But they're just names.

      The level of offence is nothing compared to what an Aboriginal person feels when compared to monkey.

      It is only in our life time that Aboriginals have been officially recognised as human beings. Before that, they were fauna. One of the native animals, just another species of monkey. Intelligent apes, really. But the thought, the taunts and the torment still linger long after the legislation.

      The English, Dutch or Germans never had to endure that - after all, they were the conquerors of those "apes".

      And you wonder why Adam Goodes is offended being called an ape or with Eddie making a joke of it?

      Date and time
      May 30, 2013, 12:08PM
    • Mick, many Brits are well and truly over being called Poms, especially when it is preceded by the word whinging. This obsession with racial stereotyping is tedious and frequently just simply rude.

      Date and time
      May 31, 2013, 2:16PM
  • whatever :( omg so what ... Prince Charles was likened to a monkey because of his ears, and all the caricatures that exaggerates the characteristics and physical features of a particular person - we are not calling for resignation of the sketchers who draw them - tall poppy time for Eddie :S

    Date and time
    May 30, 2013, 10:37AM
    • I urge everyone who believes this is another misguided witch hunt to to avoid future discussion of aboriginal issues. Take them off the table completely. Stand back and watch the continuing spiral downwards under the current set of rules and wash your hands of it. It's no longer an issue for rational, reasonable people.

      Voltara Smith
      Date and time
      May 30, 2013, 10:41AM
      • Totally agree with last comment. It is so sad because Adam Goodes overreaction has done a lot to eradicate the effect of what he did earlier. Eddie McGuire was paying Goodes a compliment. He was referring to Goodes' gigantic statue in the game and his giant-killing approach to racism. To many he could be seen as the 'King Kong' in the fight against racism, not just in sport, but in society in general. But for Goodes to make such a big deal out of something that he would have known was not an insult is simply stirring the pot. It is sad really and as I said, it negates all the good work he did earlier. The effect on many has switched from 'Good on you, we must educate our youth and fight racism' to 'It is ridiculous and an over-reaction.' Why was the instant reaction in reference to King Kong that Goodes was being called an 'ape'? If I were to offer an Aboriginal man a banana, does that mean I am calling him an ape? Would it be any different if I offered a Caucasian a banana? If so, why? As I said in an earlier post, the real narrow-minded individuals are those who automatically associate comments such as those of McGuire with racist insults. The man apologised immediately and realised that his comment would be misunderstood. The way he and the rest of the Collingwood club handled the incident with the fan was impeccable and set an example. As for the girl, I don't know why everyone is crying for her. At 13 you know not to refer to a black man as an 'ape'. If she didn't know better, she does now!

        Date and time
        May 30, 2013, 11:29AM
    • I love the headline - "McGuire faces investigation". Well if common sense prevails it should take about 3 minutes to complete the 'investigation'... Bloke says dumb, misguided joke of questionable taste, clearly no malice intented, bloke realises mistake & apologies to all & sundry immediately, the end!!!

      This nonsense does nothing to highlight racism & all associated issues. All it does is divide people & raise emotions until real & meaningful discussion ceases to exist

      Date and time
      May 30, 2013, 11:22AM

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