Eddie McGuire has spoken out about his “negative” role in a confronting documentary that exposed ongoing bullying and racism targeted at star Sydney Swans AFL player Adam Goodes.
The Final Quarter was viewed by more than 440,000 metropolitan viewers when it aired on Channel 10 on Thursday night.
The two-hour film, introduced by The Project‘s Waleed Aly, shed a light on the booing and racial abuse Goodes endured during the last three seasons of his outstanding career, forcing him into an early retirement.
The Australian of the Year and multi-Brownlow Medallist was thrust into the spotlight in 2013 when he called out a 13-year-old girl for inciting racism after she called him an “ape” during a game against Collingwood.
The documentary replayed Collingwood Football Club president Eddie McGuire’s infamous comments aired on radio in 2013 about Goodes being a candidate to promote the musical King Kong, just days after Goodes was racially abused by the young Magpie fan.
McGuire addressed his “negative” role in The Final Quarter on Friday morning on his Triple M breakfast show The Hot Breakfast.
“It’s very confronting and it’s heartbreaking to be involved in it in a negative way,” Mr McGuire said.
“I’m involved and I get a bit of a kicking in it but you know so what?
“I encourage people to watch this documentary. What you have to do in these situations is you have to front up to things. It’s an eye-opener. And if that’s the bottom line, it’s been a worthwhile exercise.”
In 2016, Mr McGuire told GQ Magazine he was affected by “heavy-duty painkillers” when he made the controversial King Kong comments on air.
The AFL’s Indigenous Advisory Board, comprised of past and present players such as Melbourne’s Neville Jetta, issued a statement about the film ahead of its screening on Thursday night.
“This was a traumatic time for Adam and was felt by all Indigenous people,” the statement reads.
“However, it would’ve been a great shame had society moved on and forgotten the detail of what unfolded.
“It’s important that we all learn from the experience to ensure it does not happen again.”
The group said many of them walked away from an early screening of the film with “feelings of anger, shame and guilt but also a strong sense of pride and hope”.
Former Western Bulldogs player and co-host on The Hot Breakfast Luke Darcy said he found the documentary “fairly emotional”.
“I think as an industry we got it wrong at the time and I feel like as an industry, apologising is the right thing to do to Adam Goodes about the way we handled it,” Darcy said on air.
The AFL issued an “unreserved” apology to Goodes about the league’s inaction against racism on the same day the documentary made its public premiere at the Sydney Film Festival in June.
But for many fans, the apology was four years too late.
The Goodes tragedy was an abject failure of leadership, and a misunderstanding by the AFL of its role and responsibility in society. A statement is a statement – albeit a significant one – but actions are far more important. It is hard not to be cynical with the timing #AFL
— Ryan Buckland (@RyanBuckland7) June 7, 2019
However, despite many Australians saying they felt ashamed for the way Goodes was treated, one significant media personality who featured in the film was unimpressed.
Former Geelong player and Footy Show co-host Sam Newman was sticking to his guns on Friday, insisting Goodes became a target because of his actions on the field and not his Indigenous heritage.
“Heartfelt thanks for enlightening comments by my fellow Australians on Goodes doco,” Newman said in a tweet.
“Would love to have been part of conversation, but wasn’t allowed. Glad I could help (Channel) 10’s flagging ratings. Keep comments coming, please.”
Heartfelt thanks for enlightening comments by my fellow Australians on Goodes doco. Would love to have been part of conversation, but wasn’t allowed. Glad I could help 10’s flagging ratings. Keep comments coming, please. #channel10 #AdamGoodes 🇦🇺🇦🇺
— Sam Newman (@Origsmartassam) July 19, 2019
Others took to social media not only to share their disappointment in Newman but to acknowledge the documentary’s stand on raising an ugly side to the AFL supporter base.
— Dr Julia Baird (@bairdjulia) July 18, 2019
I wanna pash the guy who said “you suck, you racist” to Sam Newman in the clip at the start of #TheFinalQuarter
— Brodie Lancaster (@brodielancaster) July 18, 2019
Just watched The Final Quarter, from which Adam Goodes emerged with dignity and honour. Unlike the racist claque of Bolt, Jones, Devine, Panahi and that supergrub Sam Newman wallowing in the Media sewer.
— Mike Carlton (@MikeCarlton01) July 18, 2019
My son @jack_peris idolises #adamgoodes and I touched on the impacts on him as a young Aboriginal boy witnessing what was happening to his hero when I was a Senator #TheFinalQuarter pic.twitter.com/ddRkMzMiaR
— Nova Peris OAM OLY MAICD (@NovaPeris) July 18, 2019
A second documentary called The Australian Dream featuring Indigenous journalist Stan Grant and Adam Goodes will premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August.