Eddie McGuire is stepping down.
Eddie McGuire is stepping down.

Eddie McGuire quits as Collingwood boss

Eddie McGuire has quit as president of Collingwood.

Late last year McGuire revealed his intention to step down at the end of 2021, but the severe backlash that erupted after his response to a damning report that accused Collingwood of fostering "systemic racism" has hastened that exit.

McGuire fought back tears as he fronted a press conference on Tuesday afternoon to announce he was quitting.

"I tried my best and I dont always get it right, but I don't stop trying," he said. "Today, effective immediately, I step down from the presidency of the Collingwood Football Club.

"From the moment I became the president of the Collingwood Football Club on my 34th birthday back in 1998, my sole motivation was to heal, unite, inspire and drive a new social conscience, not just into this club, but sport and the community in general and build an organisation that would be a place for opportunity for all people.

"Back then, Victoria Park was falling down around us. On the last weekend just passed, it looked magnificent, as our AFL Women's team played amazing football to win on Gay Pride Weekend."

McGuire has been at the helm of Collingwood since 1998 and has long been one of the most influential powerbrokers in the AFL. While the club has soared to new heights under his stewardship, his career has been marked by many controversies, including suggesting in 2013 Indigenous footy icon Adam Goodes should promote the King Kong musical.

He has survived all of those public stuff-ups but but could not survive the explosive Do Better report.

Speaking last week after the report was leaked to the media, McGuire said it was a "historic and proud" day for Collingwood, sparking calls for his immediate resignation.

Despite saying at the time he had no desire to quit before the end of next season, McGuire has fallen on his sword.

The investigation into Collingwood was sparked by allegations made by former premiership star Heritier Lumumba. According to the findings, Collingwood's responses to instances of alleged racism were "at best ineffective, or at worst exacerbated the impact of the racist incidents".

It was also revealed "there is a gap between what Collingwood Football Club says it stands for and what it does", while the Magpies were accused of addressing claims of racism through the prism of protecting the club's brand and reputation, rather than addressing the issues directly and instigating meaningful change.

This is exactly what led to McGuire's downfall.

Instead of acknowledging the distressing nature of the report, McGuire tried to spin the club out of trouble, saying last week Collingwood was taking on a leading role in the fight against racism.

 

"We have spent the last six years in a deep dive into how we can make ourselves better, provide leadership and conversation in the community as only Collingwood can," he said.

"We have decided as a club that this fight against racism and discrimination is where we want to be.

"We make mistakes. We learn, we strive to get better.

"We commissioned this report not to pay lip services to a worldwide tragedy, but to lay the foundations for our game, our people and our community."

McGuire added the report "is not criticism, this is a review", and was instigated because Collingwood wanted to "seize the moment" and "put ourselves in front of things". He also denied any racist issues raised in the report were because of "intention".

"I am extremely proud. I've been here a long time and we've done a lot of great things, and this is great," he said.

"There have been issues throughout history. Not only at football clubs, but everywhere. We can argue semantics, but the tone of where we want to get to is how we go forward ... rather than arguing the toss on individual issues."

McGuire denied there was any "systemic racism" at the club, even though the report explicitly stated that was the case. Grilled about how he could deny that, a bullish McGuire continued to spruik Collingwood's achievements during his 22 years at the helm.

"What's happened on my watch is we've built a fantastic club, we've commissioned this report, we've built all sorts of mechanisms for getting involved in the community ... of which we are very proud," he said.

"It was not systemic racism, as such, we just didn't have the processes to deal with it that we do now.

"I don't think there's any shame or disappointment here ... this is a day of pride."

 

Originally published as Eddie McGuire quits as Collingwood boss