Heritier Lumumba lashes out at 'disturbing' Eddie McGuire comments

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Heritier Lumumba, pictured here during his playing days with Collingwood.
Heritier Lumumba has taken aim at Eddie McGuire. Image: Getty

Heritier Lumumba has lashed out at Eddie McGuire’s controversial response to the “systemic racism” at Collingwood.

An independent investigation - commissioned by the club's board last year in the wake of allegations from Lumumba - found that Collingwood are guilty of “systemic racism” and recommended significant changes to its culture.

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After details of the report were published on Monday morning, McGuire, chief executive Mark Anderson and integrity committee members Peter Murphy and Jodie Sizer fronted the media to address the findings.

However McGuire’s comments were widely condemned around Australia - and now Lumumba has had his say.

In a lengthy press conference, McGuire described the occasion as a “day of pride” for Collingwood and insisted there was no “shame or disappointment” for the club.

On Monday night, Lumumba said Collingwood’s press conference was a “bizarre response to their own report finding them guilty of systemic racism”, taking a scathing swipe at McGuire.

“It was painful to watch the club dig itself deeper into delusion and dishonesty at today's press conference,” Lumumba wrote on Twitter.

“Eddie McGuire's inability to let go of the illusion he’s constructed of himself does not serve the Club, the code, or the community.

“It's a pity his final year looks like it will be marked by yet another self-inflicted racism scandal.

“The report clearly states that during Eddie’s tenure as CFC president, the club’s racism resulted in ‘profound and enduring harm’ to many individuals, families, & communities.

“It was disturbing to see how easily Eddie and the CFC board members reduced the severity of this ‘profound and enduring harm’ to mere ‘mishaps’ - as if they were talking about spilling tea on a couch rather than being found guilty of years of systemic racism.”

Review finds ‘profound and enduring harm’ at Collingwood

The independent report found that racism at Collingwood had resulted in “profound and enduring harm” to First Nations and African players and the club’s response had been “at best ineffective or at worst exacerbated the impact of the racist incidents”.

Some of the racist incidents highlighted in the report involved McGuire or occurred under his watch as Collingwood president.

Lumumba, who has previously alleged he was nicknamed “chimp” and that a culture of racist behaviour existed during his time at Collingwood, chose not to participate in the investigation.

The report’s authors said it was not appropriate to review Lumumba’s allegations without his involvement.

However they stressed the need for a serious investigation into the former Magpie’s claims, with his participation.

“What I saw was a clear case of cowardice,” Lumumba told ABC Radio National on Tuesday.

Collingwood CEO Mark Anderson, President Eddie McGuire and Integrity Committee members Jodie Sizer and Peter Murphy, pictured here speaking to the media.
Collingwood CEO Mark Anderson, President Eddie McGuire and Integrity Committee members Jodie Sizer and Peter Murphy speak to the media. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

“It was a clear case of a football club that is delusional. If that’s the way Collingwood wants to address an independent report, that it did not want out there.

“I have been asking Collingwood football club since late last year when I knew they had the report, I have been asking them for it, but it was not given to me.

“It was actually sad I had to receive that from media sources.”

Lumumba says he does not hold McGuire “solely responsible” for the Collingwood's culture, but believes the long-serving president needs to take more accountability as leader of the club's board.

In October 2020, he lodged a claim in the Supreme Court against Collingwood and the AFL over racist abuse he was allegedly subjected to during his playing days.

“On numerous occasions during his employment, the plaintiff (Lumumba) was subjected to racial abuse or racially-offensive conduct,” said the documents, lodged in October.

Lumumba, who made 199 appearances for Collingwood during a 10-year stint that ended in 2014, claimed both players and club employees were responsible.

The suit said Collingwood and the AFL should have been aware of what was happening and intervened, contending he suffered “loss, damage, and injury including trauma, humiliation, distress, and loss of enjoyment”.

with AAP

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