Eddie McGuire’s public apology to journalist Caroline Wilson has been deemed acceptable by the AFL but she accuses the broadcaster of repeated sexism and bullying.
Collingwood president McGuire will face no sanction from the AFL over on-air comments that he would pledge $50,000 if Wilson “stays under” in a charity ice pool, despite the league finding them disparaging and inappropriate.
McGuire, North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw and All Australian selector Danny Frawley are all at the centre of a public outcry after last Monday’s comments on radio station Triple M.
McGuire suggested Wilson should be the only participant in next year’s charity ice slide at the AFL’s Freeze MND charity match.
He said he’d pay $50,000 if she stayed under the water, before going on to describe Wilson as “like a black widow”.
In a column published on Monday in response to the controversy, Wilson said she had felt uncomfortable all week, with the comments taking her back to the old days.
“This sort of sexist nonsense has long been an acceptable part of his (McGuire’s) occasionally violent vernacular but I don’t accept that it’s jokey or banter,” she wrote in The Age.
“McGuire’s power and influence should not be underestimated. In so many brilliant ways he has earned it but somewhere along the line, bullying got him his way and too often he still runs with it.”
Wilson was, however, heartened by the wider public response.
McGuire appeared on several media outlets on Monday before apologising for the exchange, with the response satisfying the AFL.
“Words and jokes have incredible power,” AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan told a media conference on Monday.
“The fact that the comments were made on radio a week ago and were not called out is an indictment on everyone working in football.
“The fact that we can still argue that this might have been done in jest shows a lack of understanding of this issue.
“I understand the men who made these comments are horrified that they could be construed as creating an environment that makes sexist behaviours or a culture of violence against women more acceptable.
“But the truth is these kind of comments do – the statistics and data say so.”
Collingwood and Triple M have yet to comment.
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”.
St Kilda, where Frawley is a part-time coach, will meet with the former club champion this week to discuss the issue further.
“The comments were inappropriate, cringe-worthy and could barely be more in contrast with our club values,” a club statement read.