'Remember it clearly': Ex-teammates' explosive claim in Lumumba saga

Chris Young
Sports Reporter
Heritier Lumumba's claims of a culture of casual racism within Collingwood Football Club have been backed up by two more former teammates. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Two Collingwood premiership players have come to the defence of former teammate Heritier Lumumba, backing up his claims of racism within the club during his playing days.

Lumumba has been seeking a public acknowledgement from the Magpies regarding his treatment across his nearly 200-game career with the club, including that he was regularly called ‘chimp’ by teammates and that he was told he’d thrown club president Eddie McGuire ‘under the bus’ after his comments about Adam Goodes in 2013.

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The premiership defender says the club sought to cover up a culture of racist jokes and belittlement.

Now two more of Lumumba’s former teammates, Brent Macaffer and Chris Dawes, have confirmed Lumumba’s claims to SBS News reporter Ahmed Yussuf.

Both players confirmed hearing Lumumba frequently referred to by teammates as ‘chimp’, joining more former teammates in Leon Davis, Andrew Krakouer, Chris Egan and Shae McNamara, who also backed up Lumumba’s claims in 2017.

“The nickname ‘the chimp’ and stuff like that which absolutely I remember clearly, like that was (his) nickname from whenever I got to the football club in 2006,” Macaffer said.

Macaffer also discussed the meeting Lumumba called to discuss his frustration and anger at constantly being belittled by the nickname.

The meeting fizzled when a Collingwood staff member allegedly referred to then forward Paul Seedsman’s haircut, saying it was a ‘lesbian haircut’ and questioning whether this would then mean his nicknam ‘Lez’ should end.

“I remember like we're going to being in the meeting room, you know, the players and coaches and other other staff at the football department at the time and (Lumumba) getting up and speaking about those things that he's obviously dealt with internally by himself for a long period of time,” Macaffer said.

“And obviously with Heritier not wanting to be called 'chimp' anymore. Was it still alright to call Seeds 'Lez'?”

Nathan Buckley says he never heard ‘chimp’ nickname

Central to Lumumba’s frustration is Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley’s continued insistence that he had no knowledge of his player’s nickname.

Buckley reiterated that stance again on Wednesday, when asked about it in light of Macaffer and Dawes’ confirmation that the nickname was commonly used over several years.

The Magpies announced they would carry out a review into Lumumba’s claims.

Collingwood director Peter Murphy is chairing the committee, with chief executive Mark Anderson also part of the inquiry.

“Clearly my character is being questioned, and I know where I stand in that regard,” he said.

“But we will do this the right way and we will do it with the right people and we will do it with integrity.

“We are not about sweeping anything under the carpet here.

“We want to learn about it and we want the truth to be told because that is the basis of the investigation.”