AFLW star Moana Hope has been slapped down by AFL great Jason Akermanis and premiership-winning coach Mick Malthouse over an Instragram post she wrote criticising Malthouse.
Malthouse first came under fire yesterday over comments he made during a footy lunch in Ballarat, which sparked a sensational walkout by marquee player Hope.
During a panel discussion, Malthouse said Aussie rules was a “man’s game” and suggested female players should be playing under a different set of rules to reduce injuries.
He said a modified version of the game would stem the amount of knee injuries in women’s leagues.
Hope stormed out of the function and sensationally declared in an Instagram story that she was “embarrassed, ashamed, humiliated and disgusted” by Malthouse’s comments.
This morning Akermanis, who was sitting on the panel of experts alongside Malthouse and Hope, defended Malthouse and hit out at Hope saying she had “overreacted”.
He said Hope showed “inexperience” by storming out of the function.
Meanwhile, Malthouse was on the Today show saying Hope had misread his comments.
He said he was asked two separate questions during the function about proposed AFL rule changes and the development of the AFLW — and suggested Hope failed to listen to the two separate explanations.
“I wish she would have listened to the questions,” he said, adding that “she only got one part of it right”.
Talking on SEN’s Breakfast with Garry Lyon and Tim Watson, Akermanis said Malthouse’s critical comments were aimed at the AFL — not the AFLW.
“He was bagging the AFL,” Akermanis said.
“He doesn’t like certain things, he thinks they’ve stuffed it up and he’s not going to hide it. He doesn’t like the 18m rule for the goal square length — I mean that’s just bloody ridiculous.”
Akermanis said he did not believe Malthouse was disrespectful to the AFLW and said Hope’s response to his comments showed her “inexperience” on the public speaking circuit.
“I think that’s a bit strong,” Akermanis said when told of Hope’s Instagram post.
“I thought her reaction was one of inexperience. You want to have people on stage that will give you a different opinion that you’re probably not going to like. We’ve all done it. We’ve all been there.
“Mick is a great guy to talk footy. He’s a great human being. So to sort of attack Mick on a personal level and say he’s not a nice person is a bit strong.
“I think Mo just hadn’t been in these situations much. And I think in about 5-7 years when she’s been through the circuit a bit more she’ll probably be a bit more relaxed and I reckon she’ll see it a bit differently.”
He said he could see Hope growing frustrated on stage as Malthouse continued to give his thoughts on the development of the AFLW.
“I was a bit like ‘oh my god, this is getting a bit serious’,” he said.
“So I just sort of chucked in a joke and tried to lighten the mood, but she wasn’t having a bar of it. And then Mick said if they go 6-6-6 (a positional rule change being considered by the AFL) it’s going to be like bloody netball. And then you could see her face, she sought of screwed her nose up. We were nearly finished the chat, we were on stage for about 20-25 minutes and then I look over and she’s put the mic down on the stool. She’s walked past Mick and Christi (Malthouse). Walked down to the table sitting right at the front of the stage, grabbed her coat and walked out. I thought that’s a bit weird.
“I didn’t think too much of it. I just thought either she’s got work or she’s a bit upset. It doesn’t matter and then I get stuck in traffic in Melbourne and she’s really given Mick a whack across the chops.”
Malthouse told the Today show he supported the women in his family playing football, but believes the AFL needed to do more to protect players from injuries across all levels of women’s football.
He said Hope “overreacted” to his comments.
“I don’t like its present format where the casualty wards are full of young girls after games. It worries me,” he said.
“She overreacted. First and foremost in those (interview) formats, you have got to listen to the questions. There were two questions. One about the rules and one about women’s football. Don’t mess them both up because when you mix them up like that, inevitably we start talking about it at home.
“Unfortunately for Mo, she only got one part of it right.”
HOW THE DRAMA UNFOLDED
Hope was sitting on the panel with former Brisbane star Jason Akermanis at MARS Stadium. She was fuming at Malthouse’s comments and immediately left the function.
She took to Instagram saying she loves the game and “will never, ever let anyone tell me or any girl that we don’t belong or deserve to pull this jumper on at this level” but then spoke to the Herald Sun.
“He said that AFL was a man’s game and not a woman’s game and he’s said that on stage in front of 50 kids who had just played a boys and girls game of football,” she told the Herald Sun yesterday.
Malthouse went on to say that if the AFL introduced 18m goal squares and six-player zones — a hot topic of contention in the footy world — players should “wear skirts”.
“I left after that I was so disgusted and drove back to Melbourne. He can have an opinion but then there’s just degrading and disrespectful comments,” she said.
“We’re in 2018, not in 1942. I’ve been told he was an amazing coach but I don’t think he’s much as a person. I will never be in the same room as him again.
“I woke up at 5am this morning and rode 20km in preparation for next season. I’m working my backside off for AFLW.”
Malthouse fired back instantly, slamming Hope’s “unprofessional” conduct at the event and insisting his comments weren’t aimed at female footballers.
“It was very, very unprofessional,” Malthouse said via AFL.com.au.
“If she cared to listen instead of looking at her phone for most of the event, she would understand.
“Apparently she’s had a crack at me in terms of what I said about netball.
“(I was saying) the new rules are similar to netball, in other words, positioning. Not one word about female football, females or anything else.”
Hope hit back later in the night with a fresh post on Instagram.
“I love OUR game and I will never, ever let anyone tell me or any girl that we don’t belong or deserve to pull this jumper on at this level. We are one,” she wrote.
Hope’s partner Isabella Carlstrom joined the storm and slammed Malthouse on Instagram, labelling his comments “sickening”.
“How can this man be paid to attend a function and put women down so badly that @moanahope puts the mic down and walks out of a room full of people. Degrading women of the AFLW #disgusting,” she wrote.
“I cannot believe what this disgrace of a man said while on stage in front of so many young kids and my partner.”