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. 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