The Collingwood board and coach Nathan Buckley have expressed their support for president Eddie McGuire, who believes his efforts to make amends with Adam Goodes will see him avoid sanction for his insensitive comments about the Sydney player.
McGuire, who must undergo mediation with Goodes as part of the AFL's racial and religious vilification policy, will stay on as the club's leader, with Buckley lamenting the president's ''bad moment'' and the board backing him as a ''magnificent president''.
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou defended his initial comments on the issue on Wednesday morning, saying he wasn't fully aware of what had been said.
''Eddie McGuire understands that what he said was unacceptable. It was a comment that whatever he chooses to say, and however he puts it, racially vilified Adam Goodes,'' said Demetriou, who had originally simply described the comments as ''un-Eddie-like''. Demetriou said his ''first, second and third thoughts'' were with Goodes.
''Eddie McGuire has made a mistake. Eddie McGuire has said things that were unacceptable and Eddie McGuire has apologised. He's apologised, I reckon, at least a hundred times,'' Demetriou said.
McGuire apologised again on Thursday for the comments made during his Triple M breakfast show on Wednesday morning. In an awkward exchange with co-host Luke Darcy, he had suggested Goodes, who was called an ''ape'' by a teenage Magpies fan during last week's game, could be used to promote the musical King Kong, which is showing in Melbourne.
''I think I've just about ticked every element of [the AFL's racial and religious vilification mediation process]. That is: shown remorse, squared up with Adam Goodes, which is the key point, and apologised. But I will go through it and do it … even to be seen to be doing it,'' McGuire said on Thursday.
Buckley, speaking before he flew with the team to Brisbane for Friday night's game against the Lions, described McGuire's comments as poor but pointed out that he had apologised unreservedly and taken responsibility for them.
The coach said he believed Australians had a casual tendency to ''pick at'' anything that was different, and that this episode could prove to be a ''wake-up call'' for everyone.
''This is a bigger issue than just Collingwood. It's a bigger issue than just footy … That's why there is so much public interest in it. It affects every person and I don't think it comes down necessarily to just a race issue,'' Buckley said.
''It's a respect issue. Does Eddie respect indigenous people? Absolutely. He's done so much good work and he's done so much positively to impact on the opportunities of indigenous people as he has for discriminated people in all walks of life. That's part of what he's stood for in his time and I think his record should stand for itself in that regard.
''There is no perfect person in this world and … one of the other things that happens in this society is that we cut people down.''
I've just about ticked every element [of the mediation process].
Collingwood's board moved quickly to support McGuire, who said on Wednesday that he would step away from his club, radio and television commitments while the mediation process was under way if it was the appropriate thing to do.