InDaily InDaily

Support independent Journalism Donate Subscribe
Support independent journalism


Heavyweights in hot water in AFL's day of recriminations


UPDATED: After repeatedly suggesting he would not do so, Collingwood president and media heavyweight Eddie McGuire has apologised to Caroline Wilson, retracting comments about the journalist that he acknowledged could have been construed as encouraging domestic violence.

Comments Print article

“I apologise and retract them in the spirit of what we’re trying to achieve, and that is to look after women and children in our community,” McGuire said.

McGuire had earlier failed to apologise on both the Nine Network and in his first statement on Triple M, however he later returned to the controversy after Wilson said he had crossed the line.

“No one spoke of Caroline in the context of being a woman,” he told 3AW mid-morning, after hours of being under siege for the comments made a week ago.

“I would have thought equality was that we can joke with each other without fear or favour in that situation.”


McGuire, North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw and All Australian selector Danny Frawley ignited controversy after suggesting Wilson should be the only participant in next year’s charity ice slide at the AFL’s Freeze MND event – and jokingly asserting the appearance would garner more money “if she stays under”.

Earlier today, McGuire said anything that encouraged domestic violence was unacceptable, but failed to apologise to the Fairfax Media journalist for the remarks.

“Anything at all that can be perceived to promulgate domestic violence is unacceptable,” McGuire told Triple M’s Hot Breakfast.

“Full stop. That’s the big issue here.

“You can argue as much as you like about the tone and it will put it in context and the rest of it, but anything that is seen to promulgate or to support even in a light-hearted manner any sort of domestic violence, is unacceptable.”

McGuire also denied reports that AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan had told him he must apologise for the comments or stand down from his post.

“That is so far from the case,” McGuire said.

“Not at all. Not at all.”

Given another opportunity to apologise on the Nine Network later, he again sidestepped the chance.

“I’m sorry that that was the way it was certainly perceived,” he told Today.

“These things are just – they are totally out of context and in context. At the very same time in the next commentary box 3AW were same doing the same jokes alongside Caroline Wilson, everyone was laughing about it.”

But Wilson told 3AW off-air that the similar joking between herself and 3AW colleagues was different because she was there and it stopped when ex-Collingwood captain and coach Tony Shaw overstepped the line.

She also indicated on she was offended by the comments and would like an apology from McGuire.

“On this one I think they crossed the line,” she told 3AW.

“I didn’t like the language and I think it’s such a pity that they needed to default to such vicious language and I don’t accept that it is playful banter.”

McLachlan addressed media today, saying he was satisfied with McGuire’s apology and that the incident would become a platform for a broader “conversation” about the impact of casual rhetoric in relation to violence against women.

“We make our position clear that [we want] to have a conversation like we’re having today, to spread broader awareness, have a discussion with those involved anbd receive apologies,” he said.

McLachlan said he was “disappointed” he had not been made aware of the comments until yesterday, but added: “The fact is hasn’t been called out for a week maybe says something about the context.”

“Where we are is committed to continuing to improve things as an industry… and lead community understanding on these issues,” he said.

He said people would have “different views about the exact nature of Eddie’s apology” but that “I think the conversation ends up being healthy, as painful as it might be at the time”.

In a week where the Pies were awarded a licence to field a team in the new women’s national league, McGuire had said he would pledge $50,000 “if she stays under”, before going on to describe Wilson as “like a black widow” spider.

Labor frontbencher Penny Wong weighed in today, saying: “We ought not speak in ways that are suggestive explicitly or implicitly of violence … and ways that demean people on the basis of their gender.”

But McGuire found support from one prominent woman, with Queensland politician Pauline Hanson saying it was obvious McGuire was joking – and she’s had similar thoughts herself.

“Some of these journalists, I’d drown half of them,” she told the Seven Network this morning.

Hanson, who is standing again for the Senate, said she had been subjected to many similar comments over the years and people needed to toughen up. She said the McGuire incident had been blown completely out of proportion.

The AFL said late yesterday they had only become aware of the comments at the weekend, after a blog post by Sydney writer Erin Riley was widely shared.

“AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan tonight said he contacted club presidents Eddie McGuire and James Brayshaw late today regarding an on-air radio discussion they had been a part of before last week’s round 12 Melbourne v Collingwood match at the MCG,” an AFL statement read.

“Mr McLachlan said the AFL had expressed the strong view to both club presidents, and All Australian selector Danny Frawley … that although seeking to be light-hearted, the language and tenor of the wording could be seen to be supporting violent attitudes or actions against women, and was therefore clearly not appropriate.”

Brayshaw said he would pledge money in reply to McGuire’s comments.

Frawley apologised for his part in the conversation in which he said, ‘I’ll actually jump in and make sure she doesn’t (surface) – I’ll hold her under”.

“Last Monday on radio I made a couple of insensitive and inappropriate remarks about Caroline Wilson,” Frawley said on Fox Footy after yesterday’s twilight game between Essendon and GWS.

“Clearly it was a poor attempt at humour for which I sincerely apologise.”

The Western Bulldogs-Geelong game on Saturday night supported the White Ribbon campaign to prevent violence by men against women.

Despite McGuire’s measured response, it looms as a day of recriminations and mea culpas in the AFL, with Brayshaw expected to speak out on his part in the inappropriate conversation, while his team’s coach Brad Scott will face the media this afternoon to discuss his disastrous AFL gaffe, wherein he alleged the umpires overseeing the Kangaroos’ Friday night loss had “preconceived ideas” about how to officiate particular players.

Brad Scott of the Kangaroos after the first quarter during the round 12 Geelong Cats and North Melbourne Kangaroos match at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Saturday, June, 11, 2016. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Brad Scott during North Melbourne’s Friday night loss to Hawthorn. Photo: Tracey Nearmy, AAP.

Scott is set to receive a please explain from the league and is certain to be fined heavily after his comments about the umpiring during his side’s loss to Hawthorn.

The Kangaroos coach claimed umpires had said during the match that they did not pay teammate Lindsay Thomas high free kicks because he was a ducker.

It turned out Scott’s claim was without basis and North were forced into a humiliating backdown less than 12 hours later.

While the Kangaroos apologised profusely, the AFL is furious about the controversy.

“We’ve informed North Melbourne that we’ll contact them officially early next week and ask them to explain all of the reasons behind why the comment was made,” AFL football boss Mark Evans told reporters.

“Then we’ll take it from there.”

The most likely outcome appears to be fines for both club and coach.

-with AAP

Make a comment View comment guidelines

Local News Matters

Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.

Donate today
Powered by PressPatron


Show comments Hide comments
Will my comment be published? Read the guidelines.

More Football stories

Loading next article