AFL star is forced to make grovelling apology after Twitter experts slam him for daring to express his opinion the threat of Covid is ‘overplayed’ in the media
- AFL star sparks controversy with claims the media overplays Covid pandemic
- Jaidyn Stephenson expressed his views during online fan forum on Instagram
- Later apologised for ‘ill-informed’ comments and vowed to educate himself
- It’s not the first time North Melbourne star has been in hot water with the AFL
An AFL star shocked fans by claiming the coronavirus pandemic ‘isn’t ‘a big thing’ as Melbourne’s latest outbreak worsens.
North Melbourne midfielder Jaidyn Stephenson, 22, has since backtracked and apologised for his ‘ill-informed’ comments while hosting a Q and A session with fans on his Instagram account on Wednesday night.
Stephenson claimed the pandemic was exaggerated by the media on a day Victoria recorded 10 new locally-acquired cases, amid fears Melbourne could be plunged into a fifth lockdown.
He urged fans during an online forum to ask him anything non-football when one quizzed him about his thoughts on Covid-19 vaccination.
Yong AFL star Jaidyn Stephenson (pictured with his mum) is no stranger to controversy
Stephenson showed no hesitation in weighing into the debate with his divisive views.
‘Okay, pretty topical. I don’t think some will like this answer,’ Stephenson began.
‘But I think the media overplays it a lot.
‘If there’s no media, then I don’t think COVID’s such a big thing. It’s just my opinion – I don’t want any replies.’
He quickly deleted the video and issued a grovelling apology, which also appears to have been taken down.
‘I apologise for my comments regarding the COVID situation,’ he posted.
Jaidyn Stephenson (pictured on Wednesday night) claimed the pandemic was overplayed by the media. He later apologised for his comments
‘I understand they were ill-informed and that there are people going through hardship because of this pandemic.
‘I’m sincerely sorry for any angst I’ve caused with my comments and endeavour to further educate myself on this topic.’
Stephen’s earlier comments sparked public outage online.
‘Jaidyn Stephenson is a footballer, not a doctor. If you’re interested in his thoughts on AFL, probably has some valid insights to share. If you’re interested in anything else, then this enormously dumb ignorant dropkick is probably the last guy you’d seek advice from,’ one person tweeted.
Another added: One of the dumbest things I’ve heard from a public figure. the inability for people to vet low quality from high quality information is an absolute crisis… not at all funny & a scary indication on where we’re at.’
Daily Mail Australia contacted North Melbourne for comment with the club expected to issue a statement later on Thursday.
The North Melbourne star (pictured with his sister) quickly deleted his controversial comments
Stephenson’s 62-game AFL career began with Collingwood in 2018 and was traded to the Kangaroos at the end of 2020.
He’s played eight games so far in 2021 as North Melbourne languish at the bottom of the AFL ladder.
It’s not the first time Stephenson has been in hot water with the AFL.
He was handed a 22 game ban, with 12 weeks suspended, and fined $20,000 in 2019 over $36 worth of bets made on a friend’s account.
Stephenson later sparked public outrage by sharing photos on social media of his family holiday while suspended.
The Victorian government has held off imposing a lockdown for now but have reinstated the compulsory wearing of masks in indoor setting just one week after the restrictions were lifted.
Jaidyn Stephenson (pictured) starred for North Melbourne in their huge upset against West Coast Eagles in Perth on Monday night