The Australian Football League has apologized for a bizarre prank in which a dwarf entertainer was set on fire during an end-of-season party at a Melbourne pub.
The St Kilda club had hired Blake Johnston, a professional entertainer with the company Dwarf My Party, for its annual “Mad Monday” festivities. One player, Clinton Jones, came up behind Johnston and set his trousers and shirt on fire using a gas lighter, according to reports.
The fire was quickly doused, and Mr. Johnston only received minor injuries, but was “very, very shaken” and “absolutely humiliated”, according to a colleague.
Andrew Demetriou, the AFL chief executive, made matters worse by bursting out laughing on national television when told of the incident.
Mr. Demetriou later apologized, saying he initially thought the television panellist was joking. “I thought it was a joke… After I found out that it was true, it’s just reprehensible,” he said. “I was flabbergasted. That would have been one thing I could never have predicted that we would deal with.”
The AFL has already endured several damaging scandals this season, including charges of racism, drug use and match fixing.
Jones, who was fined AUS $3,000 by the league for the incident, has apologized, saying he and the other players “were engaged in end-of-season activities which in hindsight were quite childish” and he “made an error of judgement in including Mr Johnston in the activity”. Image/EuroSport.com