Collingwood president Eddie McGuire says he has been trying to "reach out" to Heritier Lumumba over the claims of racism the former Collingwood star says he suffered at the hands of the footy club.
Lumumba this week called on his former club and the AFL to publicly acknowledge the racism he says he was subjected to during his playing career.
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The 33-year-old took to social media on Tuesday to detail his experiences during 10 years at the Magpies - which he said were inadequately dealt with - and claimed he took magic mushrooms to cope with the alleged treatment.
Lumumba, who retired from football in 2016 after repeated concussion problems, said he endured a "culture of racist jokes" at the Magpies which included the nickname "chimp".
Héritier Lumumba releases a statement condemning Collingwood and the AFL.— 7AFL (@7AFL) June 9, 2020
"The CFC and the AFL must publicly acknowledge that my experiences of racism during my career were inadequately dealt with..."
(via Facebook) pic.twitter.com/AgqGipYWOs
The former All-Australian player said coach Nathan Buckley had not supported him when he spoke out against McGuire in 2013, accusing him of throwing the club president "under the bus".
McGuire addressed the controversy on Channel 9’s Footy Classified on Wednesday night, insisting he had tried to reach out to Lumumba to "find a solution" to the issue.
“Heritier Lumumba was a valued member of the Collingwood Football Club, and remains to this day,” McGuire said.
“I continually try to reach out to Heritier. In fact, earlier this year I was in Los Angeles and tried to find him, because I want to bring him home to give him a Life Membership at the Collingwood Football Club.
“I’m going to try again to reach out.”
Lumumba's confrontation with McGuire about racism during his time at the club came in the wake of the ugly booing saga around Sydney Swans legend, Adam Goodes.
McGuire had suggested on radio that Goodes could be used to promote the King Kong movie, and later apologised for doing so.
"I spoke out against McGuire's racism on 28/5/2013 and was ostracised internally for doing so, particularly from Buckley, who stated, 'You threw the president under the bus'," Lumumba said in a Facebook post.
"They viewed what I did as wrong, and remained unapologetic about it, and as a result, I was treated differently, for the worse.
McGuire accepts the hurt it has caused Lumumba and said he would like the opportunity to address the issue with him.
“We’re all about trying to get a solution; we’re not defending ourselves,” McGuire said.
“I’m really proud of what we do at Collingwood and what we do with our Indigenous programs. We have great leadership from Travis Varcoe.
“If Heritier is still obviously feeling the pain, well reach out. We want to find a solution.”
Time at Collingwood affected Lumumba’s mental health
Lumumba, who made his AFL debut in 2005, also reiterated the claim that he was called "chimp" by Collingwood teammates before being traded to Melbourne at the end of 2014.
That claim was publicly backed up by former Magpies teammate Andrew Krakouer in 2017.
"It had a negative effect on my mental health and general well-being.
"Without a support network within the club/league that could cater to my specific needs, I used psilocybin (mushrooms) out of desperation to deal with my distressed state, which subsequently helped me confront CFC over the issues."
Lumumba said the AFL and Collingwood did not have the capacity or desire to address the issues he raised.
"They were negligent and did not (take) their internal issues seriously," he said.
Lumumba played 199 games for Collingwood and added another 24 with Melbourne.