TV host Eddie McGuire has landed himself in hot water for inappropriate comments once again – this time during a charity fundraiser in iced water.
The Collingwood president says his comments that he’d pay $50,000 to see Fairfax Media’s chief football writer, Caroline Wilson, held under water, and then “charge $10,000 for everyone to stand around the outside and bomb her”, were a joke.
McGuire said Wilson was “like the black widow. She just sucks you in and gets you”. His comments were made on radio station Triple M last Monday, just before the AFL’s “White Ribbon” round, campaigning against violence against women. Collingwood was granted one of just eight franchises for the national women’s league a few days later.
The comments went largely unnoticed for most of the week until raised by freelance sports journalist Erin Riley over the weekend.
McGuire was discussing The Big Freeze, a fundraiser for motor neurone disease, in which AFL celebrities slide into a pool filled with ice water at the MCG.
Media officer Patrick Keane took to Twitter to make the AFL’s displeasure known:
AFL CEO Gill McLachlan has contacted Eddie McGuire & James Brayshaw late today regarding on-air radio discussion before r12 Melb/Coll game.
— Patrick Keane (@AFL_PKeane) June 19, 2016
AFL expressed strong view language & tenor could be seen to be supporting violent attitudes/actions to women & was clearly inappropriate.
— Patrick Keane (@AFL_PKeane) June 19, 2016
It’s holding a press conference on the issue.
McGuire returned to the airwaves today to defend his comments saying they were banter “in the spirit of the fun on the day” adding that he was “really disappointed that these comments have led to these feelings from people”.
McGuire said he “didn’t see it as being in any way shape or form sexist”, but subsequently apologised after being contacted by the AFL.
“I apologise and retract them in the spirit of what we’re trying to achieve,” he said.
“Anything at all that can be perceived to promulgate or support, even in a light-hearted manner, domestic violence is unacceptable.”
Former St Kilda captain Danny Frawley, who was part of last Monday’s discussion and offered to “jump in and make sure she doesn’t [come up] – I’ll hold her under”, also apologised.
He said his comments “were inappropriate, they were unacceptable, and any comments that translate into or are seen as being violence against women are totally inappropriate”.
Wilson spoke to 3AW this morning saying McGuire “crossed the line”, saying she didn’t accept it was playful banter.
“It’s like casual racism. Casual violent language might be meant as a joke but I really thought, I wonder how many times do we have to draw this line in the sand between what is a joke and what is completely unacceptable,” Wilson said.
The Walkley Award-winner said the conversation “sounded a lot better when you heard the spoken word than read it”.
Wilson said McGuire gets away with it because “a lot because people are scared of him”.
“His board didn’t stand up to him over the Adam Goodes business, the AFL didn’t stand up to him over equalisation… It just keeps happening because he has such power and I think because I occasionally take him to task and challenge him he doesn’t like it,” she said.
McGuire criticised former Swans star Adam Goodes last year for his dance during the indigenous round last year saying: “I don’t think we ever want to see it again.”
In 2013, just five years after he’d apologised to Goodes for a 13-year-old Magpies fan who called the Swans player an “ape”, McGuire suggested the Aboriginal star could promote the musical King Kong.
Here is the transcript of last Monday’s radio discussion led by McGuire
Eddie McGuire: In fact I reckon we should start the campaign for a one-person slide next year. Caroline Wilson. And I’ll put in 10 grand straight away – make it 20. And if she stays under, 50. What do you reckon guys? Who else is up there? I know you’re in JB?
North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw: No, yep, Straight in.
Former St Kilda captain and All Australian selector: Danny Frawley: I’ll be in amongst it Ed.
McGuire: Is Duck there?
Former North Melbourne captain Wayne Carey: Yes, I’m here mate.
McGuire: Duck’s in. Danny’s in – already spoken up.
Frawley: Yeah I’m in Ed.
McGuire: I could do an auction here today.
Frawley: I’ll actually jump in and make sure she doesn’t – I’ll hold her under, Ed.
McGuire: I reckon
Journalist Damien Barrett: I’m on Caro’s side now, Ed. I’m on Caro’s side these days, Ed…
McGuire: She’ll burn you like everyone else, mate. She’s like the black widow. She just sucks you in and gets you and you start talking to her and then bang! She gets you.
Brayshaw: If you ran that auction from down there, I reckon you’d start grabbing some bids out of the seats too. There’d be money piling in everywhere.