Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has issued an unreserved apology to Caroline Wilson after his initial reaction to the AFL’s ice bath controversy was widely dismissed as insincere.
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 the comments disparaging and insulting.
The radio conversation a week ago also included North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw and All Australian selector Danny Frawley.
On Monday evening, McGuire said he had sought counsel from several sources, including anti-domestic violence advocates Rosie Batty and Phil Cleary, before issuing a further video apology on the Pies’ website.
“In the last 24 hours and particularly this morning, I’ve seen the impact of the comments on (Caroline),” McGuire said of the respected sports journalist.
“No person should ever feel uneasy or threatened in football’s family and for that I am deeply sorry and I apologise unreservedly to Caroline for putting her in that position.”
McGuire pledged to make a personal donation to support victims of domestic violence at a coming club function that had already been planned in support of women’s charities.
“I’m a father and husband. I’m passionate about stopping the violence that claims the lives of more than 65 women a year in Australia,” McGuire continued.
“I want to play my part in changing the culture that has sustained violence against women … that includes giving no comfort to men who belittle or mistrust women.
“I’m really disappointed that I made remarks that are odds with my views on the place of women in modern Australia.”
Wilson was fuming on Monday, saying she felt the comments that sparked the controversy were sexist and bullying.
“I thought there was an element of bullying in it,” Wilson said of the exchange in question on the Nine Network.
“I’m very happy for the things that I write to be dissected and I’m very happy for people to take me on … it happens to me every week but I don’t think that’s the way to do it.
“I don’t think any journalist should have to put up with that sort of crap.”
Wilson felt there was venom in McGuire’s tone and rejected the notion the comments were made as part of a “jokey banter”.
The `Pies president was one of the celebrities who took part in the second ice bath slide last Monday at the Queen’s Birthday holiday match between his team and Melbourne.
McGuire also went on Triple M and suggested Wilson should be the only participant in next year’s charity ice slide at the Freeze MND charity match.
He said he would pay $50,000 if she stayed under water, before going on to describe Wilson as “like a black widow”.
Brayshaw said he would pledge money in response to McGuire’s comments, while Frawley said: ‘I’ll actually jump in and make sure she doesn’t (surface) – I’ll hold her under”.
Brayshaw and Frawley have apologised for their parts in the conversation.
It took six days for the radio exchange to come to wider media attention.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan condemned the comments, but stopped short of sanctioning McGuire, despite having broad powers to do so.
McLachlan said that he had consulted with women inside and outside the AFL in reaching his position.
The AFL boss refuted a report that he had asked McGuire to stand down as Magpies president over the issue.