The AFL community has been left marvelling at the audacity of Eddie McGuire, after the Collingwood president did some of his best spin work to explain a recent nightclub incident.
McGuire came under fire after he was spotted at Queensland establishment, Pink Flamingo, on Saturday night with his 19-year-old son.
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He then posed for a photo with punters, albeit in a social distancing-conscious manner, with the image making its way onto social media.
The AFL has declared McGuire doesn’t have a case to answer as he is not part of any of the league’s offical hubs.
Hawthorn president and former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett slammed the Collingwood president over the incident though, insisting it was a bad look for him to be out while his team's players were stuck in quarantine bubbles.
However, McGuire claimed he was on a "reconnaissance" mission as part of his tourism role with Visit Victoria, and was actually conducting research about how businesses are reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.
🥳 | “While he is out there jiving at the Pink Flamingo, his players and coaches are in a hub breathing stale air.”— SuperFooty (AFL) (@superfooty) September 20, 2020
A rival president has lashed Eddie McGuire for partying while players and staff are confined to QLD hubs. https://t.co/xrxEkwAc68
Discussing Eddie's response on The Sounding Board podcast, former Footy Show host Craig Hutchison and AFL reporter Damian Barrett couldn't help but marvel at the 55-year-old's ability to turn the tables back in his favour.
“He can fall on his sword totally, or he can go another way," Barrett said. “Now, knowing Eddie, he’s going to go the way that he is convinced is the right way to go.
“I laughed though because he almost doubled down on his right to be in the Pink Flamingo in whatever time it was, in those circumstances.
“And what I love most about it is, in part of his life, he is a member of Visit Victoria, which is the promotional body to bring people to Victoria.
“Victoria is in complete lockdown right now but Eddie, from the goodness of his heart, is helping Victoria, according to his statement.
“I started smirking as he was saying it, he was trying to do the right thing by Victoria in going to the Pink Flamingo to learn protocols on how we can re-open establishments.”
AFL community marvels at Eddie’s defence
Hutchison also applauded McGuire for having the "confidence" to use the reconnaissance mission as his defence.
“I say this with admiration, the reconnaissance mission defence — you know you’re a confident human being when you launch a reconnaissance defence on the Pink Flamingo,” Hutchison said.
“I say that in absolute admiration.
“How you would keep a straight face on a reconnaissance pitch is what made me laugh.
“He was in a no-win situation... the reconnaissance was a bold defence.
“I love the defence... I love the confidence to be able to attempt it.”
Despite the fact that McGuire had completed his 14-day quarantine period in Queensland - meaning he was free to go about his business like others in the state - Kennett said it was “a hell of a contradiction" for him to be out and about, when others are doing it tough in lockdown.
AFL players and their families, including those from Collingwood, are living under strict lockdown restrictions in quarantine hubs on the Gold Coast and in Perth.
Kennett was scathing about the message Eddie's night out sent to the rest of the AFL world.
“You can’t have one rule for one group of people and another rule for others," he said.
“It looks silly. He probably hasn’t broken any Queensland laws but he has put himself again at the centre of attention where this issue of conflict of interest continues to raise its head.
“While he is out there jiving at the Pink Flamingo, his players and coaches are in a hub breathing stale air.”