Aussie commentator mocks double amputee, gets blasted

Last Updated 30 March 2019, 05:07 IST

A well-known Australian sports commentator said he was "deeply sorry" Saturday after mocking the way a double amputee tossed the coin at the start of an Australian Rules game.

Eddie McGuire faced a wave of backlash for his "ignorance and lack of empathy" after criticising the flipping style of Cynthia Banham, a former Sydney Morning Herald journalist who lost her legs in a 2007 Indonesia plane crash.

She performed the pre-match ritual ahead of the Sydney Swans clash with the Adelaide Crows on Friday evening, appearing to struggle as she tossed the coin while holding a walking stick.

"I think we should introduce a $5000 fine to anybody who's tossing the coin and can't do it properly," McGuire, who is also president of the Collingwood AFL club, said during the broadcast.

"Every week, we have someone dropping it on their foot. Come on, toss it up properly, for goodness sake. Practise in the week, you know you're going to do it. It can't be that hard can it, guys?"

McGuire was slammed on social media while the Swans issued a statement saying he comments showed "not only a lack of empathy, but also ignorance".

"Cynthia is an amazing woman. Courageous, humble and inspiring. She does not deserve to be spoken about on national television in that way. No one does," added the club's chairman Andrew Pridham.

McGuire on Saturday said he was "deeply sorry and regretful".

"I should never have spoken without properly viewing the footage," he added.

"I unreservedly apologise to Cynthia, her family and the Sydney Football club for the pain and hurt that my comments have caused."

He said he would also stand down from his commentating duties for Saturday's game between Essendon and St Kilda "out of respect for Cynthia Banham and the Sydney Swans".

McGuire is no stranger to controversy, and faced widespread condemnation in 2013 when he suggested star Aboriginal player Adam Goodes be used to promote a King Kong musical.

AFL is the country's biggest spectator sport with the McGuire scandal capping a tumultuous start to the new season.

Last week, a leading women's player won widespread praise for hitting out at online trolling of an action shot of her kicking a goal as "sexual abuse".

The social media trolls were again heavily criticised after West Coast Eagles player Liam Ryan, who is indigenous, was branded a "monkey" online.

(Published 30 March 2019, 05:00 IST)

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