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AFL news 2022: Heritier Lumumba accuses Collingwood senior figures of ‘arrogance and incompetence’


Former Collingwood backman Heritier Lumumba has accused the club’s senior figures of “ignorance, arrogance and incompetence”.

Former Collingwood backman Heritier Lumumba has accused the AFL club’s senior figures of “ignorance, arrogance and incompetence” since the damning “Do Better” report was made public in January last year.

In 2021, Collingwood was forced to address an internal club investigation that concluded the club was guilty of fostering “systemic racism” that “has resulted in profound and enduring harm to First Nations and African players”.

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The investigation found the club’s responses to instances of alleged racism were “at best ineffective, or at worst exacerbated the impact of the racist incidents”.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire subsequently stood down from his position in February 2021, touting the club’s commitment to social justice in an emotional press conference.

“We are not a racist club, far from it,” McGuire said at the time.

In a damning letter sent to Collingwood’s 12-person anti-racism panel and major sponsors Nike, La Trobe Financial, KFC and Emirates this week, Lumumba explained why he had decided to terminate all negotiations with the club — along with former teammates Leon Davis and Andrew Krakouer.

The 35-year-old claimed that Collingwood “cannot be trusted to pursue genuine reconciliation with its past”, labelling the club’s legal representatives as “disrespectful and culturally ignorant”.

Lumumba shared the letter to his social media channels on Wednesday afternoon.

“In the 15 months since the Do Better Report, the Club has not even made the bare minimum effort of reaching out to players named in the report who have been victims of racism from the club and its fans,” he wrote.

“Based on this recent history with the Club, it is clear that the Club is incapable of

acting in good faith and cannot be trusted to pursue genuine reconciliation with its

past.

“This is why I made the decision to withdraw from any discussions with the Club, and refuse to be a participant in its so-called truth-telling process. I will now seek a different way to deal with the burden of the truth I have carried for far too long.”

Lumumba represented the Magpies in 199 AFL games from 2005-2014, winning a premiership with the club in 2010.

Heritier Lumumba’s full statement

Leon Davis, Andrew Krakouer and I recently announced that we were terminating all negotiations with the Collingwood Football Club. I recently wrote to CFC’s expert panel on racism and the Club’s sponsors to explain what I have witnessed:

As the most experienced members of the CFC’s Black past players alumni (with 585 games between us, including 459 at CFC) we came together over the last 15 months and took the initiative of leading efforts to help the Club come to terms with its horrific history.

But since the ‘Do Better’ report was made public in January of 2021, the CFC has failed to engage the former players that were affected by the most severe aspects of the systemic racism rife at the Club.

In dealings with the club’s executive leadership (past and present) and their legal team over the past 15 months, there has been a series of problematic episodes of ignorance, arrogance and incompetence, as well as a continued abuse of power.

Senior CFC figures made several representations that were not fulfilled and behaved in ways that were unacceptable.

Collingwood’s legal team made a direct request for me to silence a former teammate who was speaking out on social media in support of those affected by racism at the Club.

Early on, some senior figures at the club expressed their apparent disgust with Eddie McGuire’s comments at the initial Do Better Report press conference. They committed to holding a new public press conference to distance the Club from these comments. It never happened.

The general tone of some senior CFC figures, particularly its legal team, has been disrespectful, combative and resistant to change.

In a meeting to begin establishing a path towards a First-Nations led truth-telling process, CFC’s legal representatives were so disrespectful and culturally ignorant that the entire meeting was completely derailed.

There were multiple heated exchanges between the mediators and the club, which prevented any discussion about truly healing the past, and created new levels of distrust.

Following this meeting, CFC not only failed to properly acknowledge their behaviour, but also insisted on pursuing its own version of a truth-telling process while accusing us of being driven by financial motives.

It is not lost on me that the same legal team that once attempted to suppress the release of the Do Better Report has now essentially scuttled any possibility of a meaningful reconciliation process.

Furthermore, I have sufficient reason to believe the Club has not been timely or fully transparent with the Expert Panel about these dealings. It is impossible to know just how truthful CFC has been concerning the recent review regarding the Do Better Report.

In the 15 months since the Do Better Report, the Club has not even made the bare minimum effort of reaching out to players named in the report who have been victims of racism from the club and its fans.

Based on this recent history with the Club, it is clear that the Club is incapable of acting in good faith and cannot be trusted to pursue genuine reconciliation with its past.

This is why I made the decision to withdraw from any discussions with the Club, and refuse to be a participant in its so-called truth-telling process. I will now seek a different way to deal with the burden of the truth I have carried for far too long.

I am grateful to my brothers Leon Davis and Andrew Krakouer for their continuing support through this journey of healing. Our brotherhood has made it possible for me to continue fighting.



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