Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has been slammed for a tasteless comment that made light of the shocking Andrew Gaff punch that rocked the Australian sporting landscape.
West Coast’s Gaff was suspended on Tuesday night for eight matches by the AFL tribunal – the largest ban for a single on-field act in a decade – for striking Fremantle’s Andrew Brayshaw with a blow that broke his jaw.
The horrifying incident – that’s left Brayshaw having to eat out of straw – has led to calls for the AFL to crackdown hard on punching in the game.
Many commentators have demanded the AFL introduce tougher punishments to try and stamp out punches from the game altogether.
Yet despite the heightened sensitivities around the issue of violence in the sport, McGuire used his forum on the AFL television program, The Footy Show, to make an ill-conceived joke relating to tennis star Nick Kyrgios.
McGuire had just listened to Sam Newman slam Kyrgios over the Aussie’s petulant press conference, following his disappointing exit from the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
Newman demanded Kyrgios be reprimanded by the tennis authorities for his behaviour, before McGuire tried to lighten things up.
“Not that we promote violence but if Andrew Gaff had one left in him.” McGuire said, insinuating that Kyrgios deserved a punch from the banned West Coast star.
The groans from the crowd and the look on Newman’s face all pointed to the fact that McGuire’s joke was used in poor taste.
The Collingwood president’s comment was met with anger from social media users.
“Eddie Mcguire and his human laughing-track mates promoting king hits on live television while an 18 year old player is currently eating through a tube,” read one post from Facebook user @cloxic.
— 🇦🇺JD_80🇦🇺 (@justind1980) August 9, 2018
— Michael C (@mickey_c7) August 9, 2018
The final comment by #EddieMcGuire very inappropriate tho!!!
— Briley Myerscough (@BrileyM) August 9, 2018
horrible from Eddie, hardly something to be joked about..!
— Aaron S (@awjs27) August 9, 2018
Despite having his jaw broken, teeth displaced and being ruled out of the remainder of the AFL season, Andrew Brayshaw has forgiven the man that put him in that position.
Speaking for the first time since the devastating incident, Brayshaw told 7 News that he didn’t hold a grudge against Gaff, despite being in considerable discomfort.
“The action itself is horrific,” Brayshaw said on Thursday.
“But the person who Andrew Gaff is, I forgive him.
“I’m not going to hold a grudge against him as a person.
Brayshaw’s brother Hamish – who is a teammate of Gaff’s at West Coast – said the incident was completely out of character.
“Hamish told me that out of all the people that he knows, and out of everyone in the AFL, that Andrew Gaff would be the last person to do it.”