Eddie McGuire sparks fresh controversy over blackface 'disgrace'

Eddie McGuire has come under fire after appearing to defend Sam Newman’s controversial blackface stunt over two decades later.

Newman appeared in blackface during a segment on the AFL Footy Show in 1999, pretending to be Indigenous player Nicky Winmar who failed to turn up for a guest appearance.

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McGuire, who hosted the Footy Show with Newman at the time, has since opened up about the controversy in The Australian Dream documentary - which aired on free-to-air television for the first time on Sunday night.

Sam Newman, pictured here in blackface on the AFL Footy Show with Eddie McGuire in 1999.
Sam Newman appeared in blackface on the AFL Footy Show with Eddie McGuire in 1999. Image: ABC

McGuire, who appeared uncomfortable with Newman’s actions at the time, said his co-host didn’t fully understand the impact of his stunt.

“He (Newman) didn’t understand the nuance. He was a product of those times,” McGuire says in the documentary, which chronicles former Sydney Swans champion Adam Goodes’ fight against racism.

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

Viewers were left gobsmacked by McGuire’s comments, with many taking to social media to criticise the Collingwood president for seemingly defending Newman.

Goodes hated stepping onto football field

In the documentary, Goodes reveals how racist taunts and booing made him hate stepping on to the football field at the back end of his career.

“It (the football field) actually became a place I hated to walk out on to,” Goodes says in the documentary.

Despite the confronting subject matter, the film was ultimately a story of hope, the film's writer Stan Grant said at the premiere last year.

“It's a very confronting, it's a very challenging thing. Ultimately, for me, it can be a story of redemption and it can be a story of hope,” Grant said.

Aboriginal voices and experiences had to be listened to, he said.

"No one wants to be the angry Aborigine.... Australia needs to get past the idea that because you speak up and you speak against the idea of what other people may think Australia is, it doesn't mean that you don't also love your country and want the best for your country.”

Eddie McGuire, pictured here in the Australian Dream documentary.
Eddie McGuire appears to defend Sam Newman. Image: ABC

Former Swans player and Goodes' best friend Michael O'Loughlin said parts of the film tipped him “over the edge”.

Listening to what Goodes' mum had gone through was particularly hard, he said.

“Then she had to watch her boy play a game of football, imagine walking into an arena with 50,000 people booing your son or daughter, it's a really hard thing to take,” he said.

Some commentators said opposition supporters booed Goodes because he was staging for free kicks in his latter years.

In 2013, Goodes provoked a national conversation about racism when he demanded a 13-year-old Collingwood supporter who had called him an "ape" be removed from the ground.

He described the girl as the face of racism in Australia.

with AAP