MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Collingwood rugby club president Eddie McGuire was embroiled in a racism controversy May 29 only days after a 13-year-old fan of the club racially abused Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes during an Australian Football League match.
McGuire, who went into the Swans dressing room after the match to apologize to Goodes on behalf of the club, suggested during a Melbourne radio program that Goodes would be a good person to promote the musical King Kong.
Goodes, an Australian Aboriginal, was upset a week earlier after being called an ape by the teenage girl during the AFL match. The girl was escorted out of the stadium by security.
On May 29, Goodes tweeted: “Morning Australia this is what I have woken up to,” with a link to a story about McGuire’s comments and the hashtag “racismstopswithme.”
Former player Luke Darcy, a co-host on the Triple M breakfast show, had described a promotional item for the musical and McGuire replied: “Get Adam Goodes down for it do you reckon?”
Darcy replied he wouldn’t have thought so.
But McGuire added: “You can see them doing that can’t you? Goodsey. You know with the ape thing, the whole thing, I’m just saying the pumping him up and mucking around, all that sort of stuff.”
Later, McGuire clarified his comment and apologized on air.
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou at first said McGuire would face no disciplinary action over the comments. But later he said the outspoken McGuire, also a prominent television commentator, would be dealt with under the league’s racial and religious vilification policy.
On May 24, Goodes left the Melbourne Cricket Ground shaking his head late in the match after pointing to the girl in a Collingwood club jumper.
“To come to the boundary line and to hear a 13-year-old girl call me an ape, and it’s not the first time on the footy field I’ve been referred to as a monkey or an ape, it was shattering,” Goodes said then.
“She’s 13 years old, still so innocent. I don’t put any blame on her,”Goodes added. “Unfortunately it’s what she hears and the environment that she’s grown up in has made her think that it’s OK to call people names.”
Two incidents of racial abuse were also reported at AFL matches in late April, including one involving North Melbourne’s Sudanese-born Majak Daw. Television reports said Daw, who escaped to Australia with his family from civil wars in Sudan, was racially abused by a Hawthorn supporter during a match at the MCG.
The AFL said some of its top players would be asked to deliver personal appeals to fans to stop verbally abusing players during games, with those pleas potentially being broadcast before each game on scoreboards at all venues.