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February 9, 2021

One decision killed Eddie McGuire’s Collingwood careerEddie McGuire is the boss no more.

Filed under: Outdoors — admin @ 7:15 pm

Eddie McGuire’s departure as president of Collingwood seemed inevitable following last week’s baffling press conference, which football pundits described as a “dumpster fire”.

Collingwood executives were forced to front the media after an internal club investigation concluded the club was guilty of fostering “systemic racism” that “has resulted in profound and enduring harm to First Nations and African players”.

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

Instead, the 56-year-old said it was a “historic and proud day” for Collingwood, as he touted the club’s efforts in fighting for racial equality.

What followed was a tsunami of outrage from the football community, many calling for McGuire to stand down immediately from his position.

And on Tuesday afternoon, McGuire resigned in an emotional press conference at the Holden Centre.

Addressing reporters, McGuire confessed to a decision which potentially served as the final nail in his coffin.

“I committed to continuing my presidency until the end of this season. However, I don’t think it’s either fair or tenable for the club or the community,” McGuire said.

“People have latched onto my opening line last week, and as a result, I have become a lightning rod for vitriol, but worse placed the club in a position where it’s hard to move forward with the implementation of our plans with clear air.”

After the “Do Better” report was leaked, Collingwood released a statement on their website in which McGuire apologised for not doing enough to eradicate racism in the sport.

“The board of the Collingwood Football club commissioned the CFC DO BETTER REPORT for the right reasons. We can learn from our past,” McGuire’s statement read.

“Collingwood is, and will continue to be, a wonderful club but this should not stop us from striving to be better.

“The CFC DO BETTER REPORT is an acknowledgment that our club, our game and our country have got things wrong. For our part, we have always sought to do our best but looking back we now know that wasn’t always good enough. For that, we are sorry and pledge to do better.”

There are the words people wanted to hear in last week’s infamous press conference, but for whatever reason, McGuire chose not to speak them — an error he rectified on Tuesday afternoon.

“The report does make the point there had been systemic problems, which the authors explain mean problems with our processes, that saw our club react to incidents,” he said.

“That is why, in the first paragraph of my written statement last Monday — which I didn’t read out in my spoken comments but I’ll say again — in the first paragraph of the written statement handed out and online,” he added, before reading the statement in full.

Had McGuire opened proceedings last week by acknowledging Collingwood’s failings and saying sorry, rather than declaring it was a “historic and proud” day for the club, perhaps the public outrage would not have been quite as severe.

Sadly, it was a matter of too little, too late. The damage had already been done, and McGuire’s fate had been sealed.

“I try my best and I don’t always get it right, and I don’t stop trying,” McGuire said on Tuesday as he fought back tears during an emotional exit.

“From the moment I became the President of the Collingwood Football Club on my 34th birthday back in 1998, my sole motivation was to heal, unite, inspire and drive a new social conscience, not just into this club, but sport and the community in general and build an organisation that would be a place for opportunity for all people.”

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 many controversies, including suggesting in 2013 Indigenous footy icon Adam Goodes should promote the King Kong musical.

He has survived all of those public stuff-ups but could not survive the explosive Do Better report — which saw an open letter signed by Indigenous leaders demanding his resignation.


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