Eddie McGuire’s major regret in litany of public stuff-ups

After serving more than 22 years as President of Collingwood, Eddie McGuire stood down from his position on Tuesday afternoon.

McGuire has been at the helm of Collingwood since 1998 and has long been one of the most influential powerbrokers in the AFL.

While the club has soared to new heights under his stewardship, his career has been marked by plenty of controversies.

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He has survived all of these public stuff-ups, but could not survive the explosive Do Better report into “systemic racism” at the Magpies. McGuire responded to the report by calling it a “proud and historic day” — sparking a furious backlash from which he could not recover.


McGuire and Sam Newman were thick as thieves.Source:News Corp Australia

McGuire was widely condemned for defending Sam Newman’s infamous blackface stunt on live TV.

Newman, who was a longtime panellist on the AFL Footy Show alongside McGuire, painted his face black to imitate St Kilda’s Nicky Winmar, who had failed to turn up for a guest slot in 1999.

This “disgraceful” act was recently revisited in The Australian Dream, a documentary about the end of Adam Goodes’ AFL career and racism in sport.

In the documentary, McGuire talked down racism accusations surrounding Newman’s decision to paint his face black.

“He didn’t understand the nuance. He was a product of those times,” McGuire said.

“He was a ’60s, ’70s vaudevillian who was sending up Nicky Winmar because he didn’t turn up on the show that night.”


In 2011, McGuire was accused of peddling “insulting” stereotypes about Western Sydney on his Melbourne breakfast radio show.

The Collingwood President referred to Sydney’s west as the “land of the falafel”, apologising for the remarks later that day.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” McGuire said. “If this is now seen to be abusive to the western suburbs, then I apologise to every person in the western suburbs.”

However, McGuire also said Sydneysiders were not so sensitive in referring to his home city.

“Every time I pick up a Sydney newspaper they refer to Melbourne as a Bleak City. No one tears up their nightie. Relax.”


Adam Goodes was dragged into one of Eddie’s controversies.Source:News Corp Australia

Adam Goodes was a two-time Brownlow Medallist, but the final years of his AFL career were marred by relentless abuse from rival fans.

In 2013, a teenage girl was evicted from the MCG after calling Goodes an “ape” during a game between Sydney and Collingwood, and McGuire went out of his way to apologise to the Swans icon after the game.

However, a few days later, the Collingwood President came under heavy criticism for an on-air gaffe when he suggested Goodes should be used to promote the King Kong musical.

“I wasn’t even thinking, I was thinking the exact opposite of what slipped out,” McGuire said at the time.

“I’ve spoken to Adam Goodes today who again showed the class he had to accept my call, to listen to my reasoning.

“People don’t resign because they make a slip of the tongue. It’s as simple as that.”


Collingwood president Eddie McGuire takes part in the Big Freeze Ice Slide challenge fundraising event.Source:AAP

The Big Freeze is a fundraiser for Motor Neurone Disease (MND) which started in 2015, featuring several AFL personalities sliding into a pool filled with ice water.

Speaking on a radio segment ahead of a Collingwood game in 2016, McGuire suggested he would donate more money if footy reporter Caroline Wilson — who was hardly on his Christmas card list — stayed under the water for longer.

“I’ll put in $10,000 straight away, make it $20,000. And if she stays under, $50,000. What do you reckon guys?” McGuire said.

McGuire apologised following heavy backlash from the football community, initially suggesting the remarks were made in jest, calling it “banter”.

“No person should ever feel uneasy or threatened in football’s family,” he said in a statement.

“For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologise unreservedly to Caroline for putting her in that position.”


Swans Ambassador Cynthia Banham became the unwitting target of McGuire’s “joke”.Source:Getty Images

Broadcasting an AFL match in 2019, McGuire mocked Cynthia Banham — a Swans ambassador — for her pre-match coin toss, proposing those who don’t flip the dime perfectly be fined $5000.

What McGuire didn’t realise was Banham — a respected former journalist who lost both legs after a plane crash in 2007 that killed 21 people — was the one tossing the coin.

McGuire stood down from his TV commitments for the rest of the weekend and apologised if anyone took offence to his ridiculing of Banham, saying he was “devastated” when he learnt of the gravity of his situation.

On Triple M’s Hot Breakfast, McGuire said he felt “physically sick” about the controversy and had no idea Banham was responsible for the coin toss.

“I would never have made light of a person with a disability,” McGuire said at the time.

“It was just an unfortunate sequence of events but I own them. I didn’t know who was doing the toss, I wasn’t looking at the monitor.

“Out of the corner of my eye I saw the coin flick out and I went off on a tangent of jocularity.”


Eddie McGuire at the Collingwood Football Club press conference.Source:News Corp Australia

Earlier this month, Collingwood was forced to address an internal club investigation which concluded the club was guilty of fostering “systemic racism” that “has resulted in profound and enduring harm to First Nations and African players”.

Despite the report’s findings, McGuire failed to say the word “sorry” once in a press conference that lasted more than one hour.

Bizarrely, McGuire began the press conference by declaring it was a “historic and proud day” for Collingwood.

But speaking at Collingwood’s AGM last week, McGuire conceded he should not have referred to it as a “proud day” for the club.

“I got it wrong,” McGuire said. “I said it was a proud day, and I shouldn’t have.”

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