Prominent television commentator and Collingwood club president Eddie McGuire has been embroiled in a racism controversy only days after a 13-year-old fan 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 apologise to Goodes on behalf of the Magpies club, suggested during a Melbourne radio programme yesterday that Goodes would be a good person to promote the musical King Kong.
Goodes, an Australian Aboriginal, was upset last week after being called an ape by the teenage girl during the AFL match. Security escorted the girl out of the stadium.
Goodes yesterday tweeted: "Morning Australia this is what I have woken up to" along with the hashtag "racismstopswithme." He also posted a link to a story about McGuire's comments.
Former player Luke Darcy, a co-host on the Triple M radio breakfast show, described a promotional item for the musical and McGuire replied: "Get Adam Goodes down for it do you reckon?" Darcy replied he would not 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 apologised on air.
"Imagine the old days of trying to get people in for publicity and I've mumbled my way through that, so anyone who thought I was having a go or being a smart alec, I take that back," he said. "There was nothing involved in that. I was that exhausted this morning, apologies for that."
McGuire, who said Goodes accepted his apology when he phoned him later yesterday, will not face any disciplinary action by the AFL.
"He's punishing himself this morning, I've got no doubt," AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said. "It's very uncharacteristic for Eddie. He knows he's said the wrong thing because he's apologised. He just got it wrong this morning."
Last Friday, Goodes left the Melbourne Cricket Ground shaking his head late in the match after pointing to the girl in a Collingwood 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. 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 last month. North Melbourne's Sudanese-born Majak Daw, who escaped to Australia with his family from civil wars in Sudan, was racially abused by a Hawthorn supporter in a match at the MCG, television reports said.
Earlier this month, and again this week, the AFL said top players would be asked to deliver personal appeals to fans to stop their verbal abuse at games.