Eddie McGuire has quit as Collingwood president, accusing critics of making his position at the AFL club untenable.
The media personality had been set to leave the Magpies at the end of the 2021 season.
However, his response to the findings of a leaked report that found systemic racism at Collingwood and the backlash that followed, forced him to bring forward the end of his 22-year tenure.
McGuire declared the release of last week’s Do Better report as a “proud and historic day” for Collingwood.
But in an emotional statement to the media on Tuesday, McGuire said continuing his role was “not fair” or reasonable for the club or the community.
“People have latched on to my opening line last week, and as a result, I have become a lightning rod for vitriol – but worse, have placed the club in a position where it is hard to move forward of our plans with clear air,” the 56-year-old said.
He announced his resignation at Collingwood’s headquarters with the entire Magpies playing group in the room.
McGuire read out a 15-minute statement before leaving without taking questions.
“I try my best and I don’t always get it right, but I don’t stop trying,” he said.
“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.”
McGuire’s decision comes on the same day an open letter signed by politicians and Indigenous leaders circulated and called for him to quit.
More than 70 people, including federal politicians Lidia Thorpe (Greens) and Labor’s Peter Khalil and Anne Aly signed the letter.
At the club’s annual general meeting last week, McGuire apologised for how he described the findings of the club-commissioned independent review.
“I remind people that our recent review, inspired by Black Lives Matter, that part of a six-year journey of our reconciliation action plan was to look to what we need to do in the next ten years,” McGuire said.
Former Collingwood defender Heritier Lumumba first raised the alarm on concerns of racism at the Magpies in 2013.
The 223-game AFL player chose not to participate in the review but his claims were the catalyst for the investigation.
McGuire’s resignation statement did not mention Lumumba but the former Footy Show host pointed to numerous initiatives during his presidency.
“I say we are not a racist club, far from it,” McGuire said.
“I’m so proud of our club and the people every day of every week who benefit and who are inspired by the very purpose of Collingwood.”