Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has insisted he was not pushed out the door, in his first public comments since resigning in the wake of an in-depth report that found systemic racism at the club.
- McGuire was asked specifically if board members Paul Licuria and Peter Murphy turned on him
- He said resigning was one of the hardest days of his life but he made the decision himself
- McGuire reiterated that he was “proud” of the progress the club has made
The independent Do Better review said Collingwood’s response to racist incidents was “at best ineffective, or at worst exacerbated the impact of the racist incidents”.
A week after the report was leaked, McGuire, who had earlier said he would step down as club president at the end of 2021, announced his resignation, effective immediately.
“It was the hardest day of my life outside of personal tragedies,” he said on Channel Nine’s Footy Classified.
He was under intense public scrutiny, but he denied the club’s board had called for his head.
“I made the decision myself. I looked at it and I thought ‘this is becoming too much of a lightning rod, I want to do the right thing’,” he said when asked by journalist Caroline Wilson if board members Paul Licuria and Peter Murphy wanted him out.
“My whole life has been dedicated to promulgating the great things of AFL football and the Collingwood Football Club. I made that decision.
The public pressure for McGuire to resign came after he said, in what he described as a hurriedly put together press conference, the day of the report’s reveal was a “historic and proud” one for the club.
He said he spoke to board member Jodie Sizer before making the statement and she agreed the club should make clear that it was proud of the progress being made.
McGuire’s use of the word proud was condemned by a number of people, including AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan, and while he apologised the next day at the club’s annual general meeting, he reiterated his statement on Wednesday night.
“We have set our club up to be a leader going forward,” he said.
“There have been issues and mistakes made over the journey. There is a new seachange and we want to be ahead of it.
“We were proud of what we were trying to achieve. … We’re proud that we stepped forward.”
The prominent broadcaster said he had “a fair idea” who leaked the report and did not think it was anyone at board level.
“I’m now finished at the Collingwood Football Club. I’m going to go and barrack for the ‘Pies. I’m a ‘Pie until I die. I love the club,” he said.
“I’m not one of these people that walks away hoping that there’ll be schadenfreude and the place will fall on its head. Quite the opposite. I love what I did. I did my best, we made mistakes.”