The Collingwood board and coach Nathan Buckley have expressed support for president Eddie McGuire, who believes his efforts to make amends with Adam Goodes will see him avoid sanction for comments about the Sydney player.
McGuire, who must undertake mediation with Goodes as part of the AFL's racial and religious vilification policy, will stay on as the club's leader, with Buckley lamenting the president's "bad moment" and the board backing him as a "magnificent president".
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou defended his initial comments on the issue on Wednesday morning, saying he was not fully aware of what had been said.
"Eddie McGuire understands that what he said was unacceptable. It was a comment that, whatever he chooses to say and however he puts it, racially vilified Adam Goodes," said Demetriou, who originally called the comment "un-Eddie-like".
"Eddie McGuire has made a mistake. Eddie McGuire has said things that were unacceptable and Eddie McGuire has apologised. He's apologised I reckon at least a hundred times," Demetriou said.
McGuire apologised again yesterday. "I think I've just about ticked every element of [the AFL's racial and religious vilification mediation process]. That is: shown remorse, squared up with Adam Goodes, which is the key point, and apologised. But I will go through it and do it . . . even to be seen to be doing it," he said on Thursday morning.
Buckley, speaking before he flew to Brisbane for Friday night's game against the Lions, described McGuire's comments as poor but noted that he had apologised unreservedly and taken responsibility for them.
"The bloke's in his 31st year of broadcasting. He's probably spent more time on air and had his head on TV more often then anyone I can remember in that time. He obviously made a mistake. After the thousands and thousands of hours, he's made a blue . . . and he's apologetic for it," Buckley said.
"This is a bigger issue than just Collingwood, it's a bigger issue than just footy, that's why there is so much public interest in it. It affects every person and I don't think it comes down necessarily to just a race issue.
"It's a respect issue. Does Eddie respect indigenous people? Absolutely. He's done so much good work and he's done so much positively to impact on the opportunities of indigenous people as he has for discriminated people in all works of life . . . and I think his record should stand for itself.
"There is no perfect person in this world and one of the other things that happens in this society is that we cut people down. We want to cut down the tall poppies, the people who are prepared to . . . stand up for something and elicit positive change in society as Eddie has done over a long period of time."
Collingwood's board moved to support McGuire, who had said that he would step away from his club, radio and television commitments during the mediation process if it was the best thing to do.
The club's vice-president, Jack Kennedy, said: "While we accept that Eddie made a mistake that caused serious offence to Adam Goodes and many more, we balance this against the work Eddie and the board have done . . . to make Collingwood an institution in football and society that our entire family can be proud of."