Ex-Adelaide recruiting manager Matt Rendell says the racist comment which forced his resignation last week was a stupid throw-away line which does not reflect his true opinion.
Rendell resigned after a comment he made to AFL community engagement manager Jason Mifsud in January became public last week.
He had told Mifsud that the AFL was heading towards a situation in which the Crows wouldn’t recruit an indigenous player unless he had at least one white parent.
“I said as a throw-away line, as a ridiculous line, you might find we only recruit players with one white parent if it’s not addressed now,” Rendell told the Nine Network’s Footy Classified.
“… I’ve never had a policy like that in my life. I wouldn’t have a policy like that, it’s ridiculous, silly. Everyone’s the same.
“The comment that I made originally was stupidly trying to emphasise the problem that we’ve got at the moment and we need to do something about it quick and the AFL need to get involved in it.”
Rendell said the comment was a regrettable line in a long conversation with Mifsud on how to combat what he called the “attrition rate” of indigenous footballers being lost to the AFL.
Rendell said he had put to Mifsud that many indigenous players grew up in communities with fewer rules and regulations than the non-indigenous population and therefore found it tougher to adjust to AFL requirements.
He then put forward a proposal that the 30 most talented indigenous footballers at under-16 level each year be offered scholarships at schools in cities such as Melbourne or Adelaide and be placed in football programs to prepare them for the AFL.
Rendell said he used the controversial line to emphasise how urgent he considered the issue.
He also said he was forced to resign by the Crows, as they would otherwise have sacked him.
Rendell said he had wanted to instead explain himself at a press conference, but was told by Adelaide chief executive Steven Trigg that it was too late, as “the mud would stick” to the Crows.
After several hours consideration, Rendell said he realised Trigg was right and resigned.
He denied comments made earlier on Monday night by AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou that Trigg had offered him the chance to back away from the comment, but he had refused to do so.
Demetriou, who said the AFL did not orchestrate the resignation and left the matter entirely up to the Crows, said Trigg had advised Rendell to go away for a couple of hours and think about what he said.
“When he came back he said ‘I don’t resile from what I said,’ so he said ‘I should resign,’ so he resigned,” Demetriou told Fox Footy’s On the Couch.
But Rendell said that was incorrect.