Waleed Aly has rejected reports he is advising the AFL on potential rule changes.
The Gold Logie winner and host of Channel Ten’s The Project said on Tuesday he had merely been briefed on research in his capacity as a broadcast journalist.
Claims he had been consulted by the AFL earlier caused a ruckus, with cricketer Shane Warne calling Aly an “arrogant cretan [sic]”.
But Aly told SEN sport radio program Whateley the reports were “categorically incorrect”.
“I did not advise anybody. I was not consulted.”
He said he attended a briefing – along with others in the media – after speaking with Channel Ten colleague and AFLW chief Nicole Livingstone about the proposed congestion changes from 2019.
“I was pressing her, as any self-respecting broadcaster would do, about what exactly the AFL was planning.”
She did not give him any information, but he was later invited to a briefing.
Aly – who also appears on ABC’s Offsiders sports program – said he was shown a PowerPoint presentation showing the research on potential rule changes and what effects they could have on the game.
“Any opportunity you get to get an insight into what’s actually going on, you take. Because I know at some point and indeed I have had to on Offsiders, to talk about this issue of rule changes, the state of the game and that sort of stuff,” he said.
“I kind of felt, as a broadcaster, obliged to do that from a position of being informed rather than being in a position of being ignorant.”
He said he attended the briefing about three or four weeks ago.
“I asked a lot of questions but that was really for my benefit not theirs, because as I say I wanted to have it right.
“It was me trying to get a sense of how they’d crunched their data, how they’d arrived at the analysis.”
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Warne tweeted he hoped the report Aly was advising the AFL was “fake news”.
“Please tell me this is fake news & that this arrogant cretan is in no way way [sic] involved on any level !!!”
That prompted joke responses, with one pointing out that Aly was of Egyptian descent and not from Crete. He was born in Melbourne.
Basketballer Andrew Bogut, commentator Andrew Bolt, former Collingwood star Tony Shaw and Macquarie Sports Radio hosts Mark Levy and Mark Riddell also weighed in, criticising the AFL and Aly.
Some football fans made racist or Islamophobic comments on social media in response to the claims.
Others jumped to Aly’s defence.
— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) August 20, 2018
Sports commentator Richard Hinds said Aly “knows more about the modern game than a few people on the AFL’s silly rules panels and less than some others. But so predictable he is the one attacked for being asked his opinion”.
Hinds later revised his comments after hearing Aly’s response.
“So it turns out Waleed just got the same briefing as others in the media to inform his opinions about the potential rule changes. You would have to be a ‘cretan’ not do to that,” he said, mocking Warne.
Aly is a passionate Richmond supporter and was once a mascot for the club in 2001.
The New Daily contacted the AFL and Aly for comment.