When Daniel Michael heard about Eddie McGuire’s controversial drowning comments he was incensed. The Adelaide father of two was so upset by McGuire’s remarks - “joking” about drowning female journalist Caroline Wilson - that he typed up a furious complaint.
Michael wrote that although his two young boys, who are five and two, love footy, he “won’t be encouraging them to go anywhere near a footy game”.
“It saddens me to think that you would announce a women’s league, do White Ribbon Day, and then when a bunch of dinosaurs carry on about drowning a respected female journo, you do nothing except a little slap on the wrist,” he said.
Michael then found a selection of email addresses on the AFL website, and hit send.
Less than two hours later, he had an unexpected phone call: AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.
“I saw the number come up, with an ‘03’,” says Michael, who owns an events venue in Adelaide. “I honestly wasn’t expecting him… [McLachlan] said, ‘So you think what we came out with wasn’t strong enough?’”
The pair then spent the next few minutes talking about the AFL’s response to McGuire’s remarks.
When Michael said that as a father he found McGuire’s comments troubling, McLachlan pointed out that he too was a father – of daughters.
“So I said, ‘Do you want your girls to be subjected to this kind of thing when they reach the pinnacle of their field?’”
Michael said he was “passionate without being rude” and told McLachlan that while his words were strong, the consequences faced by McGuire were not.
At one point, Michael said McLachlan accused him of wanting “a head on a spike”. “But I said, ‘No, I want consequences.”
McLachlan called Michael at 3.24pm Adelaide time. At 4:46pm Melbourne time, Collingwood FC released a statement about its support for women’s charities, saying “there is no place in our community for the support of violent behaviour or language, even in humour.”
The statement came after Holden – which last year signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Collingwood – tweeted that it was disappointed with McGuire’s comments. The tweet said Holden is “engaging with Collingwood to directly express our disappointment and discuss the future of our sponsorship”