Dwarf 'set on fire' at end of season party
Illustration: Australian Football League side St Kilda is investigating claims that a player set fire to a dwarf booked to entertain players. AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou apologised for giggling when told of the incident on Channel Seven.
The incident prompted an apology from the league's chief executive Andrew Demetriou who giggled on live television when told of the allegations against a St Kilda player, which he said he initially thought were a joke.
The dwarf Blake Johnston and his colleague Arthur Serevetas were reportedly booked by the club to entertain players at their so-called "Mad Monday" event this week, but things allegedly got out of hand.
Channel Nine said a group of players began using a lighter to set fire to each other's clothes. Then one, who has not been named, is said to have turned his attention to Johnston, who is also a wrestler and goes under the moniker Mr Big.
"A player went behind my friend with one of those gas lighters that you light up a stove and basically lit him up," Serevetas told the broadcaster's Footy Classified show.
"Part of his shirt and pants caught on fire. After that someone put it out and he got ticked off and we basically left. That was the end of our gig, basically."
Johnston was quickly helped by other players and suffered only minor injuries, the reports said.
Serevetas said he considered the St Kilda player's conduct as criminal and had advised his colleague to take action.
Victorian state police confirmed a complaint had been lodged and they were investigating, while the club said in a statement it was looking into the matter.
When Demetriou was told of the incident on live television, he began giggling -- a reaction which sparked angry reaction on social media.
He later apologised, saying he thought it was a joke.
"I was actually giggling at the beginning ... because I thought they were having me on. I thought it was a joke," he said. "After I found out that it was true, it's just reprehensible.
"I was flabbergasted because in the scheme of all the things we've been (through), that would have been one I could never have predicted that we would deal with. It wasn't meant to be offensive and I apologise to anyone who is offended."
"Mad Monday" celebrations, invariably alcohol-fuelled and in fancy dress, have a long history of making the wrong headlines across various sporting codes.
In 2010 ex-Canberra NRL player Joel Monaghan simulated a sex act with a dog in a Mad Monday party following the 2010 season -- sparking global shame as a picture of the incident went viral and the RSPCA got involved.
AFL club North Melbourne's tasteless 2009 video of a condom-clad rubber chicken performing sex acts, which found its way onto YouTube, also attracted criticism.
Aussie Rules has endured a tough season, with Essendon coach James Hird banned for 12 months and the side hit with the biggest fine in the sport's history -- Aus$2.0 million (US$1.8 million) -- over a drug supplements scandal.
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