AFL boss Andrew Demetriou has apologised for laughing on television after being asked about claims a St Kilda player set fire to a dwarf's clothes during Mad Monday celebrations.
Dwarf entertainer Arthur Serevetas said he and colleague Blake Johnston, who performs under the moniker Mr Big, were hired to perform for Saints players the day after their season-ending win over Fremantle on Sunday.
Serevetas alleged Johnston had his clothing set alight by a player using a gas lighter.
"Part of his shirt and pants caught on fire," Serevetas told the Nine Network's Footy Classified on Monday night.
"After that someone put it out and he got ticked off and we basically left."
When asked to respond to the allegations on the Seven Network's Talking Footy program on Monday night, Demetriou appeared to giggle uncontrollably.
"I was actually giggling in the beginning because I'd been told by the producer during the break before we went onto the next segment and I thought they were having me on," Demetriou told 3AW on Tuesday.
"I thought it was a joke.
"When this was brought up, I just thought it was incredulous to think that this could possibly be."
Demetriou said he didn't believe it was genuine until the story, which had been published online, was read to him.
"After I found out that it was true, it's just reprehensible.
"I was flabbergasted, because in the scheme of all the things that we've been (through this season), that would've been one thing I could have never predicted that we would deal with.
"It wasn't meant to be offensive and I apologise to anyone who is offended."
Demetriou said he would be contacting Johnston on Tuesday to see how he was and to apologise for his initial reaction.
"I wasn't directing my laughter at him, I just couldn't believe the situation could occur."
The chief executive said what made the situation more "incredible" was the fact the AFL had visited St Kilda and other clubs talking about the end of season activities and how to mitigate risks involved in such celebrations.
"I don't understand, unless someone can explain, what the purpose of having lighters? I don't get that."
"We spend our whole lives telling children not to play with matches...
"In the multitude of issues we deal with, this is one that I've never come across and I can't actually believe - and I didn't believe that it was real.
"I understand from a briefing I had this morning that there was no damage done, but it doesn't excuse the behaviour - it doesn't excuse my behaviour, it certainly doesn't excuse what has happening on Mad Monday."
Demetriou said the AFL were in the process of gathering all the facts from St Kilda.
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