AFL FANS have blasted controversial commentator Eddie McGuire over ‘inappropriate comments’ he made while a plane crash survivor and double-amputee carried out the coin toss during Friday night’s game between Sydney and Adelaide.
The Swans also released a statement in the wake of the outrage, saying the commentary highlighted McGuire’s ‘ignorance’ and ‘lack of empathy’.
The Collingwood president suggested the AFL introduce a fine for anyone who was unable to flick the coin properly, as Swans’ No.1 Ticket Holder Cynthia Banham appeared to struggle to carry out her duty.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
Banham, a journalist, author, solicitor and teacher, who lost both her legs in a 2007 plane crash in Indonesia which killed 21 people, performed the pre-match ritual at the SCG while also clutching a walking stick.
“I think we should introduce a $5000 fine to anybody who’s tossing the coin and can’t do it properly,” McGuire said on Fox Footy.
“Every week we have someone dropping it on their foot. Come on toss it up properly,” he went on.
“It can’t be that hard can it?”
— The Age (@theage) March 29, 2019
The Fox Footy audience was quick to jump on social media to express outrage at the comments, calling McGuire a ‘lowlife’, ‘ignorant bigot’ and ‘out of touch’.
While head of content at the AFL, Matt Pinkley labelled McGuire an ‘ignorant disgrace’.
Others came to his defence saying the comments weren’t directed at Banham, as expressed in his apology later in the night.
In a statement issued by the Sydney Swans soon after the match, the club expressed its disappointment that the commentary had overshadowed a moment that should have been celebrated.
“The Sydney Swans are incredibly disappointed by inappropriate comments made tonight by Eddie McGuire.
The comments show not only a lack of empathy, but also ignorance.
Cynthia Banham is a passionate Sydney Swans member, our number one ticket holder, and a courageous woman who is an inspiration to all of us at the club.
She was one of the key figures behind our Diversity Action Plan.
Regardless of who is invited to toss the coin, they are doing so by invitation and as recognition of their love of the sport or a club.
It is a tradition that should be celebrated.
We are extremely proud that Cynthia was there to toss the coin for our first home game at the SCG this season.”
McGuire responded during half-time with an apology, where he denied the comments were directed at Banham.
“It had nothing to do with Cynthia Banham, who was the coin tosser tonight at the SCG and has a disability,” McGuire said.
“I just want to apologise if this was communicated in the wrong way, I did not mean to offend anyone, especially Cynthia, and I apologise unreservedly to her, her family and friends, Swans supporters and anybody watching tonight who took it that way.”