Football league: dwarf set on fire at end of season party
The incident prompted an apology from the league's chief executive who laughed and giggled on live television when told of the allegations against the player who was fined and forced to apologise.world Updated: Sep 04, 2013 01:25 IST
An Australian Football League player was fined and forced to apologise on Tuesday to a dwarf entertainer set on fire during a prank in arguably the sport's most bizarre end-of-season celebration.
The incident also prompted an apology from the league's chief executive Andrew Demetriou who laughed and giggled on live television when told of the allegations against St Kilda player Clinton Jones, which he said he initially thought were a joke.
The dwarf Blake Johnston and his colleague Arthur Serevetas were reportedly booked by the club to entertain players at their so-called "Mad Monday" event this week, but things allegedly got out of hand.
Channel Nine said a group of players began using a lighter to set fire to each other's clothes. Then one, identified by the club as Clinton Jones, is said to have turned his attention to Johnston, who is also a wrestler and goes under the moniker Mr Big.
"A player went behind my friend with one of those gas lighters that you light up a stove and basically lit him up," Serevetas told the broadcaster's Footy Classified show.
"Part of his shirt and pants caught on fire. After that someone put it out and he got ticked off and we basically left.
"That was the end of our gig, basically."
Johnston was quickly helped by other players and suffered only minor injuries, the reports said.
Serevetas said he considered Jones' conduct as criminal and had advised his colleague to take action.
Victorian state police confirmed a complaint had been lodged and they were investigating. The club later said Jones had been fined Aus$3,000 (US$2,684) for misconduct and had apologised personally to Johnston for the "inadvertent action".
"I sincerely apologise to Mr Johnston and have done so personally today," Jones said in a St Kilda statement.
"As a playing group we were engaged in end of season activities which in hindsight were quite childish. I made an error of judgement in including Mr Johnston in the activity."
"I am embarrassed if this has caused angst and certainly had no intention to cause any harm to anyone."
When Demetriou was told of the incident on live television, he began giggling -- a reaction which sparked angry reaction on social media.
He later apologised, saying he thought it was a joke.
"I was actually giggling at the beginning ... because I thought they were having me on. I thought it was a joke," Demetriou said.
"After I found out that it was true, it's just reprehensible.
"I was flabbergasted because in the scheme of all the things we've been (through), that would have been one I could never have predicted that we would deal with.
"It wasn't meant to be offensive and I apologise to anyone who is offended."
"Mad Monday" celebrations, invariably alcohol-fuelled and in fancy dress, have a long history of making the wrong headlines across various sporting codes.
In 2010 ex-Canberra NRL player Joel Monaghan simulated a sex act with a dog in a Mad Monday party following the 2010 season -- sparking global shame as a picture of the incident went viral and the RSPCA got involved.
AFL club North Melbourne's tasteless 2009 video of a condom-clad rubber chicken performing sex acts, which found its way onto YouTube, also attracted criticism.
Aussie Rules has endured a tough season, with Essendon coach James Hird banned for 12 months and the side hit with the biggest fine in the sport's history -- Aus$2.0 million -- over a drug supplements scandal.