A grand final luncheon in Ballarat today resulted in controversy after AFLW star Moana Hope stormed out of the function over comments made by league legend Mick Malthouse.
The feud at the luncheon, hosted by the North Ballarat Sports Club, started over comments Hope labelled as “disgusting”.
Hope was front and centre of the event when she stormed out and did not return.
The furore erupted over a discussion regarding proposed rule changes in the AFL and injuries to women.
Hope says she took offence to the comments, but Malthouse claims his words were taken out of context.
Watch The Courier’s interview with Malthouse, Hope and Jason Akermanis before the function.
After the event, Hope told AFL.com.au she felt Malthouse was insinuating women shouldn’t play football.
"He was saying stuff about how women get injured and women should just not play AFL because it's a man's game," Hope told AFL.com.au.
"When he was asked about the AFL changing the rules of the men's game and the square (goalsquare), he then went onto talk about the game back in his day and if the AFL did change the rules, they may as well put skirts on the men, let them play netball and call them women."
"The fact he said it's a man's game and women shouldn't be playing and only should play without contact, it really upset me.
"I put my mic down and left the appearance, something I've never done before. I was so disgusted and embarrassed, I almost cried, I almost had a panic attack."
Malthouse responded on Thursday night, believing Hope had taken his comments out of context.
"It was a very unprofessional way of approaching this... clearly she had the opportunity to talk, and to get up and walk out because of a different opinion, I've never seen it before."
"I was asked about the rules and I said the 18-metre rule is ridiculous," he told Fairfax Media.
The AFL Competition Committee has recently signed off on recommendations that would see the length of goal square extended from nine to 18 metres, and six-six-six starting positions enforced at every centre bounce.
"Two, I said a game divided up into divisions is netball and they wear a skirt. We do not want to make it into divisions... we do not need a football ground broken into divisions."
He said he would "never apologise" for his opinion that there should be a modified game for women.
"As far as AFLW, I don't like it in its present format... they subject themselves to massive injuries. I suggested the ball should be smaller and should be no bumps and only tackle, not go to ground, that would make it uniquely women's football," he said.
"I'm all for women playing sport, however the casualty wards in hospitals have too many girls with broken collarbones, busted knees etc."
In a now deleted post on Instagram, Hope's partner - model Isabella Calstrom - also spoke out against the former Carlton coach.
"I cannot believe what this disgrace of a man just said while on stage in front of so many kids and my partner. It's sickening. How can you have a daughter and speak so poorly of woman and woman in sport," she wrote.
Onlookers at the event told The Courier the event continued with little fuss after Hope’s dramatic exit.
Hope and the North Ballarat Sports Club did not respond to requests for comment.
- with The Age