Eddie McGuire is facing calls to stand down as Collingwood president over his controversial response to a bombshell racism report about the AFL club.
Collingwood has vowed to implement all 18 recommendations from the damning report that found the AFL club guilty of "systemic racism" and urged significant changes to ensure it eliminates that "toxic" culture.
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The independent report, submitted to the club's board in December, found racism at Collingwood has resulted in "profound and enduring harm" to First Nations and African players which "affected them, their communities, and set dangerous norms for the public".
The recommendations include alterations to governance procedures to ensure accountability and consequences for acts of racism within the club and to develop a strategy to address and reconcile past acts of racism.
The report also suggests the club develop a framework for responding to incidents of racism that is proactive, and that concepts of anti-racism and inclusion be integrated into the club's values.
The report was commissioned by Collingwood's board last year, triggered by a series of claims of racism made by 2010 premiership player Heritier Lumumba.
Days later, the long-standing Magpies president announced he would be stepping down at the end of 2021.
On Monday, however, calls for McGuire to stand down grew louder after he said the findings of the report represented a "historic and proud day" for the club in its bid to stamp out racism.
“We commissioned this report not to pay lip services to a worldwide tragedy, but to lay the foundations for our game, our people and our community," McGuire said.
However, the Collingwood president has been accused of spinning the shocking findings against the club to suit their own purposes.
McGuire did not use the term "sorry" once throughout an entire press conference that spanned more than one hour, with many observers accusing him of being delusional and calling for him to fall on his own sword.
“A key part of the report into Collingwood’s racism was how the club had tried to spin its way out of such issues and cared more about media image than actions,” ABC columnist Richard Hinds posted on Twitter.
“So what do we hear today?
“Surely Eddie can’t serve another month after this dumpster fire of a response. Let alone twelve. Test of character for the other board members.”
Victoria’s first Indigenous senator Lidia Thorpe insisted that "Eddie’s gotta go" and it was a sentiment shared for many others who described it as a "car wreck" of a press conference led by the long-serving Collingwood president.
‘Car wreck’ press conference sparks uproar
Even some Collingwood fans admitted it was time for the club's iconic figurehead to move on.
— Lidia Thorpe (@lidia__thorpe) February 1, 2021
Judging by Twitter, there is absolutely no love for Eddie McGuire or Collingwood. Car wreck of a presser.
— Ray Gatt (@Gatty54) February 1, 2021
I’m not sure what I’m more shocked about: leading with “this is a proud day in the history of our football club”, or the fact that there was not one, solitary apology from the football club.
I love you Collingwood, but I’m happy to see Eddie McGuire moving on.
— Paige Cardona (@paigecardona) February 1, 2021
They can’t even apologise and admit they were wrong 🤦♀️
— MiSsBuGsY87 (@missbugsy87) February 1, 2021
This is a disgraceful performance from Eddie McGuire. https://t.co/nyShP5L5zh
— Jake Lapham (@JakeLapham) February 1, 2021
He needs to go now. This is pathetic.
— Alex (@AlexMulFP) February 1, 2021
Eddie McGuire is a disgrace & an embarrassment. @CollingwoodFC we are a laughing stock right now.
— Didier Bedini (@DidierBedini) February 1, 2021
The sooner Eddie McGuire leaves the AFL landscape the better it will be.
— Todd Davey (@ToddJDavey) February 1, 2021
McGuire admitted that the Collingwood club "got things wrong" in the past and said it would learn from those mistakes.
The report found there has been a consistent pattern of Collingwood failing to adequately address incidents when they have arisen, and that there was an absence of internal avenues for reporting racism in the club until recently.
"All of this comes back to the leadership of the Collingwood Football Club -- particularly its board -- and the need for them to set the vision and values of the club and to drive structural change within the organisation," the report says.
The review also found there is a "genuine acknowledgement of past failures and a strong desire to do better".
Positive steps already taken by Collingwood include the introduction of policies that directly target racism and the appointment of a new chief executive - Mark Anderson - who is committed to making changes.
"It needs to be noted and underlined that, in undertaking this review, the club was unflinching in holding up a mirror to itself," the report says.
While 30 interviews took place during the review, Lumumba did not participate in the investigation.
Lumumba has claimed he was nicknamed "chimp" and that a culture of racist behaviour existed during his time at Collingwood, spanning 10 seasons from 2005-2014.
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