Polarising media personality Sam Newman has sparked further outrage after describing COVID-19 as the ‘Chinese virus’ as he called for the official AFL season to be cancelled.
His comments came 48 hours after the former Footy Show host parted ways with Channel Nine, ending a 35-year partnership.
No stranger to controversy, Newman suddenly left the network on Friday following an extraordinary tirade about George Floyd during an online podcast.
The AFL season was thrown into chaos on Saturday after Essendon Bombers player Conor McKenna tested positive to coronavirus.
Newman weighed into the debate about the season after Essendon’s round three clash against Melbourne was postponed, with Bombers players ordered to self-isolate until they can be tested again this week.
Former AFL Footy Show host Sam Newman (pictured) has been inundated with more backlash 48 hours after he parted ways with Channel Nine over his comments about George Floyd
‘Let’s face it. The AFL 2020 comp is a farce. How can a table ladder be set, when games and players are postponed. Cancel the official season and just play on to entertain the TV audience,’ the Geelong Cats great posted on Twitter on Sunday, adding the hashtag ‘Chinese virus’.
It was the second time within 24 hours he had referred to coronavirus as the ‘Chinese virus’.
‘Due to the Chinese corona virus, Essendon and Melbourne won’t be on TV this weekend. I know how they feel. Boo boo. #ChineseVirus,’ he posted on Saturday.
His latest tweet divided the internet and sparked disagreement among his followers.
‘You’ve deadset lost it mate. Take a spell!,’ one man commented.
Another added: ‘Wrong wrong wrong… Get a life.’
Some accused Newman of looking for more attention after his Channel Nine career came to an abrupt halt.
‘You mean cancel the season just like your career, big difference is you now have no TV audience,’ one said.
But Newman was also inundated with support.
‘I like you Sam for calling it for what it is! ChineseVirus,’ one said.
‘You should take over the AFL Sam and in addition start the Sam Newman Footy Show and let loose. I miss your antics and your full frontals, let em rip again Sam,’ another wrote.
A Carlton fan added: ‘You are so right Sam. Hard to get excited when nobody is there! I’m sick to death of these players taking a knee! How ridiculous!’
Many others fans were just as disillusioned as Newman with the code since the season resumed last week following a 10-week lay-off
‘Cannot muster any enthusiasm for the competition. The season is a complete write off. And the games have been very ordinary,’ one wrote.
Newman’s tweet (pictured) about the AFL season on Sunday divided the internet
Conor McKenna trained with the Bombers on Friday before testing positive to coronavirus
Newman revealed on Saturday was his podcast tirade about George Floyd that sparked his departure from Channel Nine.
Newman made the comments about Floyd on his podcast ‘You Cannot Be Serious’, alongside fellow footy great Don Scott and journalis Mike Sheahan.
In the rant Newman called Floyd, whose death while in police custody sparked mass Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. and the world, a ‘piece of sh*t’.
‘George Floyd, who is a piece of sh*t incidentally,’ he began before his co-hosts attempted to intervene.
‘You know who George Floyd is? He has been in jail five times, he held up a pregnant black woman with a knife, he’s a drug addict, he’s a crack head and he’s a porn star.’
To which Sheahan responded: ‘And he’s dead’.
‘Because of the police brutality,’ Newman responded. ‘And it should never have happened, but I’m just telling you who George Floyd is and they’ve made a monument to him and he’s a piece of sh*t.’
George Floyd died after an arrest on May 25 in which a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes, during which Floyd was complaining that he could not breathe.
Records showed Floyd had been arrested nine times for mostly drug and theft offences, and served several short prison sentences.
His most serious offence was aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, in which he and other suspects forced themselves into a woman’s home and Floyd held a pistol to her abdomen. He served four years in prison for the crime.
His autopsy found high levels of fentanyl in his system and evidence of recent use of methamphetamine which the initial examiners said ‘contributed to his death’.
Newman’s ‘porn star’ comment referred to content circulating online that showed a man purported to be George Floyd performing in an adult video.
When the call from Nine came through at 3pm on Friday, Newman knew the writing was on the wall.
Newman made comments about Floyd on his podcast ‘You Cannot Be Serious’, alongside fellow footy great Don Scott and journalist, Mike Sheahan
Outspoken TV personality Sam Newman has broken his silence about his rant about George Floyd after he was let go from Channel 9
‘The station rang me and said: ”We are getting a bit of blow back from some of your comments” and I said: ”Well, I don’t want to put the station in an invidious position, anymore than I have in the past”,’ he told the Herald Sun on Saturday.
‘I said: ”I am very happy, if it will solve anything for you, very happy to withdraw forthwith from appearing on the network”.’
He said the network agreed it would be for the best.
‘Whether I beat them to it or they were going to say that anyhow is irrelevant,’ Newman said.
He insisted he was talking about Floyd’s criminal record and that people should have focused on condemning police brutality.
He claimed the ‘extravagant language’ used may have gotten his point across in a way he did not intend.
However, he remains firm about his comments about Floyd, calling them ‘absolutely accurate’.
‘How in God’s name could you say that was controversial what I said about him,’ Newman said.
Newman received backlash within the community for the statement, including from former Collingwood player Heritier Lumumba.
He claimed Newman didn’t see black people as ‘human’.
Newman received backlash within the community for the statement, including from former Collingwood player Heritier Lumumba
‘Sam Newman is doing exactly what he has always done. He is consistent with his bigotry, unwavering with his prejudice, and unapologetic with his tone deafness,’ he wrote on Twitter.
Lumumba claimed Newman’s position on the Footy Show was one of the reasons he refused to appear on the program.
‘George Floyd’s criminal past shouldn’t disqualify him from being seen as a human being first. Police aren’t conducting background checks before shooting, beating or kneeling on the necks of black people. Why? Because they don’t see us as human. Newman doesn’t sees us as human,’ he said.
To that, Newman responded by writing: ‘Stop pulling your d*** Harry, you were never asked to come on the Footy Show. We didn’t invite losers.’
George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis cop. His death saw the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has gone global
Controversial TV personality and former AFL great Sam Newman (pictured on the Footy Show in 1999) announced his split from the Nine Network after 35 years on Friday night
The former AFL star revealed he was not given an ultimatum or warned about his social media or podcast during the call about his position at the Nine Network about 3pm on Friday.
The network’s Director of Sport, Brent Williams, called Newman while he was driving to address the backlash to his comments.
Newman described the conversation as ‘amicable and pleasant ‘ and called the network a ‘terrific employer’.
Newman’s contract was due to expire at the end of 2020 and he insisted that his withdrawal was not unexpected, revealing he felt change was ‘in the wind’ five years ago, blaming the current ‘politically correct, woke age’.
‘It was not unexpected if you are going to have an opinion about things that are out in the public arena and some would view controversial and yet most would think are absolutely reasonable,’ he said.
Newman said he will continue to work on the podcast with his co-hosts saying there are still ‘a hell lot’ of people who agree with his views.
Newman’s (pictured) split from Nine comes after Daily Mail Australia reported the Footy Show host unleashed an extraordinary rant on George Floyd and labelled him ‘a piece of sh*t’
A spokesperson from Nine told Daily Mail Australia the decision had been made ‘mutually and amicably’.
‘Sam Newman has been a part of the football landscape in Melbourne for generations. He enjoyed an illustrious playing career, notching up 300 games for the Geelong Football Club.’
‘We thank Sam for his service with Nine over several decades. His contribution to The Footy Show was paramount to the enormous ratings success the show enjoyed over many years,’ the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said Newman ‘was a master at live television’ who ‘attracted a legion of loyal fans to The Footy Show with his comedic and insightful input’.
Newman joined the network as a panelist on the Footy Show in 1993 and sparked a number of controversies throughout his career.
In 1999, Newman appeared on the show in blackface and impersonated Indigenous footballer Nicky Winmar.
Newman referred to sixteen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg as an ‘annoying little brat’ and a ‘shit’ in late 2019.
He also responded to Jacinda Ardern’s comments on the Christchurch Mosque massacre in 2019 with an extended critique of the New Zealand accent.
Newman recently criticised AFL players for taking a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
He claimed the gesture at the Richmond Tigers and Collingwood Magpies match was an act of ‘preening’.
Sam Newman (left), Mike Sheahan (centre) and Don Scott chew the fat in their podcast ‘You Cannot Be Serious’