'Cannot ignore it': Collingwood urged to address racism furore

Chris Young
Sports Reporter
Collingwood, and club president Eddie McGuire, have been urged to address racism complaints dating back as far as 2005 from former player Heritier Lumumba. Pictures: Getty Images

Several leading AFL commentators and reporters have called on the Collingwood Football Club to address long-standing allegations of racism within the club dating as far back as 2005.

Former Magpies defender Heritier Lumumba uploaded a lengthy Instagram post detailing specific instances of racial discrimination at the club on Tuesday, which became a major talking point in light of ongoing protests against the police un the U.S., as well as Black Lives Matter marches across Australia last weekend.

Lumumba, who retired from football in 2016 after repeated concussion problems, said he endured a "culture of racist jokes" at the Magpies and that coach Nathan Buckley had not supported him when he spoke out against Eddie McGuire in 2013.

"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.

"They viewed what I did as wrong, and remained unapologetic about it, and as a result, I was treated differently, for the worse.”

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.

Collingwood urged to address ongoing racism claims

Both parties have tried to resolve the situation before, notably speaking when Lumumba’s documentary Fair Game aired in 2017, which tackled his experiences at the club and in the AFL.

Neither the club, nor president Eddie McGuire or coach Nathan Buckley, were able to reach a resolution with Lumumba, despite McGuire and Lumumba speaking on Fox Footy.

AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson said it was crucial that the issue be addressed.

“It’s a bit of a mess, but I think it’s real, and I think the Collingwood Football Club will have to address it,” he said.

“They can’t just say ‘sorry, we’re not answering that, we’ve got a season to be played’. I think the president and the coach will at some stage have to address what happened.”

Robinson later added he expects the AFL to get involved, arguing ‘they cannot ignore it’.

Herald Sun writer Jon Ralph also urged the AFL to finally put the saga to rest, suggesting the AFL needed to demonstrate it had integrity when dealing with racial discrimination within the league.

“Surely it’s beholden upon the AFL to investigate them, and if it is that he’s owed an apology by Collingwood, I’m sure Nathan Buckley and Eddie McGuire would want to do that.

“It’s not just about retweeting Black Lives Matter messages, it’s about us in the AFL actually getting to the bottom of these claims.

“And if he is owed an apology, well let’s do that, for the good of the game.”