Speaking to A Current Affair on Monday night, the victim of George Calombaris’s Sunday night outburst at a soccer final, described the celebrity chef’s behaviour on Sunday night as “unnecessary and erratic; that’s how I would describe it,” he said anonymously.
The Masterchef judge was captured pushing a soccer fan at Sunday night’s A-League grand final after he told the chef to “pay your staff”.
“I couldn’t believe I got punched by the bloke off Masterchef, really. Everyone else was yelling ‘pay your staff, pay your staff,’ and I think the crowd got on his nerves a bit,” the teen continued.
The altercation comes after Calombaris was last month forced to reveal his restaurant business had underpaid staff by a total of $2.6 million.
Watch the moment the celebrity chef pushes a soccer fan. Post continues…
Calombaris, a Melbourne Victory fan, witnessed his team go down 4-2 alongside fellow Masterchef judge Matt Preston and chef Shannon Bennett.
In the footage obtained by SBS’s The World Game, Calombaris can be seen standing and chatting to officials and friends on the ground after the match ends.
One man can be heard yelling, “George” and “Pay your staff, you dodgy bastard” among a sea of others yelling at the celebrity chef.
Baited by the taunts, Calombaris then yells at the crowd before he walks to a man in the front row and – to the man’s shock – shoves him.
Listen: Why Masterchef did what MKR couldn’t.
“I remember him, just like, looking at me and then sucker punch straight in the guts, really. He was certainly trying to provoke the situation, that’s for sure,” the teenager told A Current Affair.
They continue to argue before a police officer can be seen calling over the Masterchef judge and speaking to him. Preston then ushers his friend away.
In a statement released on Monday morning, Calombaris apologised for his actions and indicated that the fan may have been targeting his family.
“I am really disappointed with what occurred last night,” he said.
“I was genuinely shocked when post-match football banter turned into personal abuse about my family.
“I regret the way in which I reacted, I am disappointed that I let it get to me, and I sincerely apologise for offending anyone.
“While I am not proud of my reaction to the situation, I was offended by a spectator yelling out abusive and derogatory comments about my family.
“I have spoken to Melbourne Victory FC and Football Federation Australia today to report the situation and I’m truly sorry that this has happened.”
Attending the Sunday night final with his family, the teenager claims, “He [Calombaris] was yelling at me, ‘come on the field, come on the field,’ but I’m not an idiot, I’m not going to go on the field. And then essentially he came over because I didn’t come on the field, and you can see on the video I start to move back and then get hit in the stomach. I couldn’t believe it really.”
Finally, he said, “I’ve heard him say that people were abusing his family. I certainly wasn’t abusing his family and I personally didn’t hear anyone around me abusing his family.”
Calombaris’ business MAdE Establishment was advised more than 18 months ago that 162 staff across several of its restaurants were being underpaid.
“We received a heads-up from FWO [Fair Work Ombudsman] more than 18 months ago, which should have resulted in us fixing our systems sooner,” Calombaris said in an email to staff last month.
“We are truly sorry for the impact this has had on our incredibly hard-working, talented and dedicated staff.”
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