Aussie TV host under fire for Usain Bolt ‘slavery’ joke
Bolt has been on trial at A-League club Central Coast Mariners in New South Wales for the past two months, and opened his goal-scoring account for the club with a double in a recent friendly.
That has led to rumors of interest from Maltese champions Valletta FC, with the club reportedly keen to sign the world's fastest man as they bid to break into the Champions League.
Discussing speculation that Bolt could first sign for the Mariners and then be sold on to the European club, Koch said on breakfast TV show ‘Sunrise’: “So the Mariners sell him for money, they make a lot of money out of it?”
Co-host Mark Beretta replied: “It’s a win-win. You keep him, great. You sell him, so be it, that’s the tough world of professional football.”
Koch then left his co-hosts stunned by adding, “who said slavery was over ... anyway, no,” before cutting himself short.
The reference to slavery prompted shock and anger from some viewers, who slammed the veteran Seven Network presenter.
Koch took to Twitter to post an apology, although appeared to dig himself an even bigger hole with the explanation that “there’s no slavery any more. People have rights.”
1/2 On @sunriseon7 this We were talking about how good it is for Bolt and the Mariners at news he was getting offers from European clubs.— David Koch (@kochie_online) October 16, 2018
Basically the use of the word slavery is a reference I’ve used to defend players who want to trade clubs or change jobs in Sport...
2/2 that you can’t keep them... it’s a free world. There’s no slavery any more. People have rights.— David Koch (@kochie_online) October 16, 2018
I admit it was clumsily put this morning when talking about Bolt shifting clubs so early and I should have explained it better.
If you don't have those thoughts, you don't say those thoughts. You've screwed up again!— Michael Tomalaris (@miketomalaris) October 16, 2018
This is just the worst explanation for this. Cringeworthy.— SwampyD (@swampd1515) October 16, 2018
There is a 100% still slavery— Tom Bell (@TomRBlike) October 16, 2018
The gaffe-prone presenter has come under fire before, including while convering the earthquake disaster in New Zealand back in 2011, when he tweeted: "Up since 3.20am yesterday... time to sleep like the dead.”
Eight-time Olympic champion Bolt, 32, is pursuing a life-long dream of a career in professional football, having hung up his track spikes last summer.
Before embarking on a trial with the Mariners, he trained with Borussia Dortmund in Germany, Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa and Stromsgodset in Norway.
The Mariners are yet to offer him a contract, although Valletta FC are reportedly prepared to offer him a two-year professional contract.