AFL CHIEF executive Gillon McLachlan described Collingwood's report of systemic racism at the club as a "sobering and confronting day" and said he had questioned Magpies' president Eddie McGuire about his controversial press conference comments.
The Magpies fronted the media on Monday with the release of an independent report into the club's history of race-related incidents, with McGuire saying it was "a historic and proud" day as Collingwood adopted 18 recommendations for the future.
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But McGuire's press conference has brought further negativity upon the club, with McLachlan saying he would not have used the same language and that it had taken the discussion away from the important aspects of the report.
"I've spoken to Ed and asked him some questions. I think the articulation of the report yesterday was challenging in its wording and certainly some questions I asked about Ed," McLachlan said.
"I'm disappointed the focus today is around the way the report was talked to rather than the report itself. Because that's the important piece.
"It's a report that goes to the history of racism at the Collingwood Football Club and it has 18 recommendations that are going to drive that club going forward that the board is committed to embracing and that's what we should be talking about today."
McLachlan said when he spoke to the outgoing Pies president, who announced late last year that 2021 would be his final season in the job, he challenged McGuire's use of the word "proud".
"I had a conversation with Ed. We sit here today where we should be talking about the report and the recommendations and the honesty of which the football club has leant in to owning its past and that I would have articulated things differently. I think Ed understands that position and probably agrees with that," he said.
"I said I would have used a different word [than proud]. I thought it was more sobering and confronting. It was a general conversation. I didn't talk to specifics [but] maybe did talk to that word (proud), yes.
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"We had a conversation that was confidential. I wanted to understand what he meant. He was clear to me that he was looking forward and he was proud they were addressing their past and there was a series of recommendations to take them forward and do better that had been endorsed by the board.
"We had a conversation and explored that. I was pretty upfront that I wanted to understand that word because it’s not the word I would have used."
McLachlan said McGuire would address his comments later on Tuesday. The League boss said the Pies' report pointed to a "whole industry" approach that was required to implement change, with the AFL receiving the report on Monday.
>> READ THE FULL 'DO BETTER' REPORT Download the PDF here
"I can only speak for myself. I think we stand here today wanting to listen and learn and engage in conversations and do better. That's at the heart of this report being commissioned by the Collingwood board," he said.
"That's at the heart of my learnings, that we need to have conversations and improve, and that you've got to be open to change and open to your history.
"Collingwood, I know, and I spoke to Ed this morning, and his intention was to say that he was wanting to look forward and embrace the recommendations. I think the articulation, I didn't agree with it, and I think yesterday was more a sobering and confronting day and we had that conversation."
AFL social policy and inclusion manager Tanya Hosch said we all must continue to confront the issue of racism across all areas of the community.
"'Proud' is not a word I would use."— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) February 1, 2021
AFL executive @tanyahosch on Eddie McGuire's response to the Collingwood racism report.
Ms Hosch tells @paulwkennedy it "wouldn't surprise me at all" if more AFL players came forward to share their experiences. pic.twitter.com/6VMklV0Dy8
"These are hard conversations we need to have in order to become better as clubs, as a code and as a football community. We will continue to strengthen our commitment to confront, understand and fight all forms of racism and discrimination, on and off the field," Hosch said.
"If any player, at any level of the game has been subject to vilification and not had the positive experience in football that we wish for all players to have, our commitment to you is to do everything in our power to listen to you, understand your experiences, support you, and act against further incidents.
"The AFL will also listen to and learn from the report and will continue to work with clubs and players wherever our game is played to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all."