Heritier Lumumba says it was “disturbing” to see Collingwood president Eddie McGuire’s attempt to spin his way out of trouble in Monday’s explosive press conference.
McGuire fronted a media conference on Monday to address the leaked findings of the so-called “Do Better” report which investigated the club’s shocking history of fostering “systemic racism”.
McGuire has been accused of trying to twist the verdict of the report after a shambolic press conference where the long-serving president declared “it was not systemic racism, as such” despite also declaring the club fully accepts the report and its key list of 18 recommendations.
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McGuire’s comments during his 50-minute long press conference led to calls for him to resign immediately, despite announcing in December he would step down from the board at the end of the 2021 season.
Asked about Lumumba’s refusal to sit down with his former club because he feels so hurt by his experiences, McGuire said Collingwood will continue to reach out, adding “it breaks our heart” the backman doesn’t want to be part of the Magpie family.
“We’re not a mean-spirited club, we’re not a racist club,” McGuire said. “I hope this provokes conversation tonight in every household, in all of your workplaces.”
While McGuire was able to mention Lumumba directly, the report fails to investigate his claims of racism, despite the public accusations being the trigger that forced the club to commission the investigation.
Lumumba filed paperwork with the Supreme Court of Victoria in October, alleging a “duty of care” breach by Collingwood in providing a safe workplace.
While not making any reference to Lumumba’s individual case, the report found the football club is responsible for racism that “has resulted in profound and enduring harm to First Nations and African players”.
The 34-year-old responded to McGuire’s claims on Monday night, accusing McGuire of telling lies.
He said the most “disturbing” detail of the Collingwood press conference was the club’s alleged attempt to “reduce the severity” of the bombshell findings in the report.
It was behaviour specifically highlighted and condemned in the report.
The report also said Collingwood has a track record of addressing claims of racism through the prism of protecting the club’s brand and reputation, rather than addressing the issues directly and instigating meaningful change.
McGuire’s comments on Monday are yet another sad example.
Lumumba said exactly that when he posted a lengthy response on Twitter.
“I’m grateful to all the people who have reached out to me in support — including CFC members and supporters — as well as all those who have challenged the Collingwood Football Club’s bizarre response to their own report finding them guilty of systemic racism,” he posted on Twitter.
“It was painful to watch the club dig itself deeper into delusion and dishonesty at today’s press conference.
“Eddie McGuire’s inability to let go of the illusion he’s constructed of himself does not serve the Club, the code, or the community. It’s a pity his final year looks like it will be marked by yet another self-inflicted racism scandal.
“The report clearly states that during Eddie’s tenure as CFC president, the club’s racism resulted in “profound and enduring harm” to many individuals, families, & communities.
“It was disturbing to see how easily Eddie and the CFC board members reduced the severity of this “profound and enduring harm” to mere ‘mishaps’ — as if they were talking about spilling tea on a couch rather than being found guilty of years of systemic racism.”
The “Do Better” report concluded a separate investigation into Lumumba’s circumstances was warranted and claimed “there is a gap between what the Collingwood Football Club says it stands for and what it does”.