AFL club presidents Eddie McGuire and James Brayshaw are expected on Monday to address “clearly inappropriate” comments they made about the journalist, Caroline Wilson, after being contacted by the league’s chief executive, Gillon McLachlan.
The controversial remarks were made on radio station Triple M nearly a week ago, but were only brought to a wider audience this weekend when the recording was shared and picked up on social media.
In a statement late on Sunday, the AFL said it had only become aware of the discussion between the pair and other pundits – in which disparaging remarks about Wilson were made – earlier in the day.
In the segment, which featured on the station’s The Rub show – before McGuire was to take part in a charity event in which he was to slide into an icy pool of water – the Collingwood president is heard to propose a different format to the fundraiser.
“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.
“Straight in,” North Melbourne chairman Brayshaw answers, before the former players-turned-pundits, Danny Frawley and Wayne Carey, indicate they are “in” too.
“I’ll actually jump in and make sure she doesn’t,” Frawley adds. “I’ll hold her under, Ed.”
Wilson is the chief football writer for the Age and has been named the AFL Players Association’s football writer of the year and won the AFL Media Association’s awards for most outstanding football writer and most outstanding feature writer several times during her career.
McGuire goes on to suggest the group could charge $10,000 for “everyone to stand around and bomb her”.
Damian Barrett, a journalist, is the only one of the group apparently reticent to back the idea, saying “I’m on Caro’s side these days”.
McGuire responds to Barrett with: “She’ll burn you like everyone else, mate. She’s like the black widow. She just sucks you in and gets you and you start talking to her and then bang! She gets you.
“It’d be magnificent. I think we should do that next year. It’s all good for footy,” McGuire concludes.
Frawley, appearing on Fox Sports’ Bounce program on Sunday evening, issued a brief apology.
“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,” Frawley said.
“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.”
The AFL statement said the league “had expressed the strong view to both club presidents and All Australian selector Danny Frawley ... that although seeking to be light-hearted, the language and tenor of the wording could be seen to be supporting violent attitudes or actions against women, and was therefore clearly not appropriate.”
The segment played out to much laughter from the group, and sparked outrage on social media.
The incident came in the same week that the AFL launched its involvement in White Ribbon Week, Australia’s campaign to prevent men’s violence against women.
On Wednesday last week, the AFL announced its backing of a new women’s competition, starting next year. McGuire’s Collingwood were one of the eight successful applicants.