Eddie McGuire has spoken out amid damning new claims from Heritier Lumumba about his time in charge of Collingwood Football Club.
Lumumba has been speaking out in recent years about his experiences of racism and abuse at the club, which he left at the end of the 2014 season.
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This week he levelled more explosive claims against the club, including allegations an assistant coach used a pornographic image during a team meeting, while also releasing a secret recording of a conversation he had with former coach Nathan Buckley.
In the audio clip, Buckley can be heard accusing Lumumba of throwing McGuire "under the bus" when he criticised the former club president for his infamous 'King Kong' comment about Adam Goodes.
Addressing the furore on 'Footy Classified' on Wednesday night, McGuire said he felt sad for everybody involved.
“It’s just really sad … I‘m sad for everybody,” he said.
“I was very close with Heritier and have not spoken to him in any other terms other than pure love and affection over the journey. That means nothing at the moment – that’s not a criticism or anything, that’s just the way I feel.
“I hope the door is still a little bit ajar, at some stage, for Heritier to come back - I think the welcome mat is out still. But it‘s his prerogative.
“There‘s nothing to be said anymore on this. The only thing I want to see going forward is if at some stage there is some way we can make things come together.”
Lumumba's experiences at Collingwood were the catalyst for the 'Do Better' report, which detailed 'systemic racism' at the club over a number of years.
The report made 12 recommendations for change that Collingwood vowed to implement, however Lumumba has expressed his frustrations with the club's response.
“The Do Better report was commissioned by me and our board. It got leaked, but it was going to be presented,” McGuire said.
“The only reason why it wasn‘t presented was because there were factual errors in there that we wanted to have right so that nobody could come back at it. So there was no hiding it or anything else like that.
“The club lent into this – and largely because we wanted to find out what was going on … whether it was completely right from Heritier or partly right or whatever, we actually lent into this in a big way.
“(The Magpies) have put in place everything that the experts have asked. Jeff Browne‘s board now has gone out and got experts from RMIT and everywhere else to drive this.
“Collingwood Football Club, I‘d argue, has now got the systems right - that’s the systemic part. It wasn’t that we were doing anything different to anybody else, we just didn’t have them like no one else.”
Nathan Buckley responds to Heritier Lumumba claims
In the recording that Lumumba released, Buckley can be heard saying to Lumumba: “You threw him under the bus. You threw him under the bus, mate.”
Lumumba responds: “I didn’t throw him under the bus, and we can’t go through that again.
“This is part of my issue, because you still believe that, and that’s what hurts me so much Bucks, and I know you’ve carried it this whole time.”
Buckley then says: “What the whole thing comes back to is, do you actually think about the best interests of the football club?
“You’ve become a bit of a rogue and you might call it leadership but you’ve basically gone on your own, not tangents, but on your own crusades at times.”
Buckley responded on Twitter on Wednesday, writing: “Heritier, I offer you the opportunity to put a full and uncut version of our conversations on public record so as to provide context to our conversations and the support that was provided to you above and beyond that which could be reasonably expected in the circumstances.”
The former coach also hit back at claims from Lumumba that he was forced to leave the club for speaking out against racism.
“And facts??? You asked to be removed from the leadership group and…. You asked to be traded from the club. The club simply facilitated your requests," Buckley wrote.
Heritier, I offer you the opportunity to put a full and uncut version of our conversations on public record so as to provide context to our conversations and the support that was provided to you above and beyond that which could be reasonably expected in the circumstances.
— Nathan Buckley (@ncb_cfc) May 10, 2022
You asked to be removed from the leadership group and….
You asked to be traded from the club.
The club simply facilitated your requests.
— Nathan Buckley (@ncb_cfc) May 10, 2022
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