AFL presidents put their feet in it

The Australian Football League (AFL) has found itself embroiled in yet another furore over women, this time with two of its club presidents lambasted for inappropriate comments about prominent female sports journalist, Caroline Wilson.

As part of the Big Freeze at the ‘G on Monday last week, radio station Triple M, crossed to Eddie McGuire, President of Collingwood Football Club, who had been nominated to slide into freezing cold water to raise funds for Motor Neuron disease. In what was typical banter on the pre-footy show, The Rub, hosted by James Brayshaw, President of North Melbourne Football Club, Eddie McGuire proceeded to discuss how much money they could raise if Caroline Wilson was sent down the slide.

This in itself is harmless, but it was the way in which the discussion continued that has people up in arms. “In fact I reckon we should start the campaign for a one-person slide next year. Caroline Wilson. And I’ll put in 10 grand straight away – make it 20 and if she stays under, 50,” McGuire said. Eddie then says to Brayshaw that he knows he would be in, to which Brayshaw replied, “Straight in”. It was at this point that Danny Frawley, ex footballer and coach, chips in with, I’ll actually jump in and make sure she doesn’t. I’ll hold her under, Ed.”

At the time the chat went relatively unnoticed but social media went into a flurry of activity when the AFL launched its involvement in White Ribbon Week, the campaign to stop violence against women.

Eddie McGuire and Danny Frawley have both apologised for their comments, saying it is never acceptable to make light of violence against women. Danny Frawley issued a statement, “On Monday on radio I made a couple of insensitive, inappropriate remarks about Caroline Wilson. Clearly it was a poor attempt at humour [for] which I sincerely apologise.

“Let’s leave it at that. Unfortunately, as I said, it was a poor attempt at humour and it didn’t go down that way.”

On his radio program this morning McGuire said the following, “Anything at all that can be perceived to promulgate or support, even in a lighthearted manner, any form of domestic violence against women is unacceptable.”

As yet, James Brayshaw has made no comment.

The commentary surrounding the issue suggests that the powers that be at the AFL have simply not acted quickly enough or with enough conviction. In the week that it also announced that it will back a competition featuring eight women’s teams, a stronger response than the comments, “although seeking to be lighthearted … could be seen to be supporting violent attitudes” should be forthcoming.


Do you think the comments were taken out of context? Or is this another example of how men in the media and positions of influence simply don’t realise it’s not okay to be ‘one of the boys’?

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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