You’ve got to give it to Eddie McGuire, the bloke really puts in his all to have the last word even when the repercussions will cost him.
But he doesn’t need sympathy. He needs educating on issues of race and inclusion, as well as a thorough lesson on how to give an unequivocal apology.
The former Collingwood President received at least an initial schooling from former Indigenous Pies player Andrew Krakouer overnight, who condemned McGuire’s assessment of yet another racism scandal plaguing the AFL.
A week ago, Adelaide Crow’s player, Taylor Walker was reprimanded for racially abusing Robbie Young. Exactly what Walker said has not been publicly revealed, but the comment was deemed racist in nature following an investigation by the AFL Integrity Unit.
Walker issued a public apology earlier this week via video, but the awkward attempt was branded by many as inauthentic, contrived and a publicity stunt.
Sitting in the empty stands, Young sat a row behind Walker, watching on as he was issued a very brief scripted statement. The apology closed with the final remarks: “I’m going to lean on you Robbie,” Taylor said, “I’m going to lean on the AFL and others around me to support me.”
This particular message struck an angry chord. Why should it be up to victims of racial abuse to provide support to their abusers? Moreover, the consequence for Walker’s actions were negligible. While he was issued a $20,000 fine and ordered to sit out for the remainder of the season, his lucrative contract remains in place.
But Walker has at least one ally in Eddie McGuire. On Footy Classified this week, journalist Caroline Wilson and McGuire had a heated debate about the scandal with Wilson critical of Walker’s apology. However, McGuire — a man with his own well-documented past of racist conduct– said he held some sympathy for Walker’s situation.
“I’ll tell you what happens: If you apologise, it’s all spin. If you don’t apologise, then you’re recalcitrant. If you apologise too much, then you’re adding mayonnaise to it. There is no answer to this,” McGuire said.
“Trust me about getting up and trying to do the right thing in a press conference and people taking it the wrong way. You (Wilson) said something once where people jumped all over you about disabled athletes. Anyone with any brain could see what you were trying to say and it wasn’t malicious, but you copped a kicking on it. You can sometimes say things where the words come out – it happened with me with Adam Goodes.”
Andrew Krakouer hit back with a pointed tweet to McGuire’s cringeworthy lack of insight: “The answer: Don’t be racist. If our blakness bothers you… you’re racist.”
McGuire’s words and inability to reflect, even now, underscore why his decision to step down as Collingwood’s President earlier in the year was critical.
After describing a report on systemic racism at the club as “a very proud day”, McGuire never truly comprehended the social fury that came his way. The same came be said for when the commentator was (rightly) hauled over the coals for his blatant racism toward former Sydney Swans player, Adam Goodes in which he referred to the athlete as “King Kong”.
While McGuire eventually retracted his horrifying comments, his response showed– as does this one– that he harboured no true understanding or remorse. “I tried my best and I don’t always get it right, but I don’t stop trying,” he said.
But perpetually making excuses for the words that come out of your mouth and your own accountability from a position of great power, can never be construed as the definition of “trying”.