Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has given his backing to Collingwood president Eddie McGuire after furore surrounding his response to “systemic racism” at the club.
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.
But McGuire’s comments were widely condemned around Australia - including from former star Heritier Lumumba - after he described the moment as a ‘day of pride’ for the club as it looks to stamp out racism.
Despite heavy criticism and people calling for him ‘to go’ after the press conference, state premier Andrews has backed the Collingwood president to face the challenge.
“I don’t think running away from challenges is leadership, whether it’s in a footy club or any other thing,” Premier Andres told reporters.
“I think we’d be naive to think that it’s just one footy club, or it’s just one period of time, or it’s just one code. This is in our community. And we all of us have to do better. And, again, I’ll leave others to make their own judgments.
“But I would have thought, if you commission a report, you front it, and you’ve committed to doing what you can to fix it. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? Not the issue. But the response?”
The premier later doubled down: “You asked me should he (McGuire) go, I’m saying no, that doesn’t make any sense to me, that’s running from a challenge, instead of dealing with it.”
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.
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