Eddie McGuire responds to gambling ban rumour
AN ELABORATE attempt to create a rumour Collingwood was going to be banned from this year's finals because of a gambling sting is being investigated by the AFL's integrity department, Magpies president Eddie McGuire says.
Although the rumours were quickly shut down and never reported, sections of the football world were in a spin on Thursday when a fake screengrab of a player's phone was circulated.
"Some of the boys have had a betting syndicate," part of the fake message read
. "(Player's name) dumped the bet on us to lose to Hawthorn. Then it just snowballed from there. They just kept betting against us ... had a meeting the other day and we're told by the AFL commission we're not going to play finals."
McGuire told Triple M's The Hot Breakfast the rumours were false and the club was taking action to find the person or people behind it.
""The AFL Integrity Department, this is a very serious department of the AFL, with the backing of Victoria Police, are investigating this, because one, there's defamatory comments in this - forget about the harassment part of it and all the rest of it," he said.
I reckon the Collingwood rumour is a perfect one for the players association to test / pursue. Players were named in the texts. If they can track down who created the false messages, sue them. It’d be an important test case. It almost seemed very coordinated— Tom Browne (@TomBrowne7) August 8, 2019
"But the integrity of the game is paramount to everybody. No one's taking a happy go lucky view of this … it's 100 per cent not true.
"But (it got) to the point where we had to ring the AFL yesterday to just check if something was going on that we didn't know about."
Gambling rumor doing the rounds ... utterly false. So, no more tweets thanks.— Mark Robinson (@Robbo_heraldsun) August 8, 2019
McGuire said he had been aware of the rumour for a "week or two" but "somebody stoked it up yesterday and it's gone nuts".
Ex-AFL star and McGuire's Triple M colleague Luke Darcy said "someone's put some work in to manufacture a scandal here".
"Being serious for a moment, they can be incredibly damaging these things," Darcy told The Hot Breakfast.
"I've seen it in the past where rumours have been circulating that are completely untrue about players and alleged affairs and things that have happened, and they stay with them forever even though they're not true."
McGuire said the situation presented a difficult decision around whether to give the rumour extra oxygen with a denial or to not comment.
"You're torn, because the phone calls started yesterday," McGuire said. "I had supporters ringing me up saying 'you better get (in front of this) because people are going nuts, on supporter sites people are tearing each other apart'."
The rumour appears an opportunistic attempt to jump on the back of the gambling ban handed to Magpies youngster Jaidyn Stephenson earlier this season.
Stephenson was handed a 22-game suspension (12 suspended) along with a $20,000 fine after admitting to placing bets on AFL games.