Footy star unleashes on ‘racism cowards’ within league
Former Collingwood star Heritier Lumumba has blasted "cowards" running the AFL and accused the league and his old club of being blind to the reality of racism in Australia.
The Magpies recently announced they would be launching an investigation into Lumumba's allegations of a "culture of racist jokes" at the club during his 10-year stint in the black-and-white.
Lumumba claims he was nicknamed "chimp", among other derogatory names, but Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley maintains he never heard that.
Speaking on Triple J's Hack, Lumumba said it was "embarrassing" when people reduced his claims to a "he said, she said" argument.
"It's actually quite embarrassing" Lumumba said. "Can we all agree Australia has a problem with racism? Australia was founded on racist ideas, Australia implemented racist ideas. This is fact, OK.
"For the people within Collingwood and the AFL to pretend, 'No no, we're different, we're not like the rest of society, this is a racial utopia where everyone's in harmony' - that's bulls**t.
"That doesn't exist. Get into reality, we have a lot of work to do as a people."
AFL players took a knee before games as the season restarted amid the Black Lives Matter movement, showing their support in stamping out racism.
But Lumumba doesn't believe a true turning point is possible in the AFL until it admits it has a problem with racism.
He referenced the AFL's commercial arrangement with mining giant Rio Tinto, who recently faced huge backlash for destroying a sacred indigenous site in Western Australia. Lumumba also took aim at AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, who admitted the game didn't do enough to call out the racist booing that forced Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes into retirement.
"The AFL, set up as a non-profit organisation, has chosen to say Black Lives Matter to make a statement," Lumumba said.
"You just have to call the hypocrisy, because one of the AFL's partners is Rio Tinto, and for Rio Tinto to just blatantly destroy a 46,000-year-old sacred site, please just think about that.
"Black Lives Matter? So the AFL, you're happy to take a position on this. If Black Lives Matter then you would address that, but you're cowards. The people running it are cowards, clearly.
"I can say that about Gillon McLachlan, he has no clue how to deal with racism. It is clear he is not at a level where he has done enough work on himself because if he had, he would've acted different with Adam Goodes.
"If he had he would've taken a different stance with my situation. If he had, he would have addressed his relationship with the partnership of Rio Tinto.
"Let's have a look at the black lives that are affected by the actions of one of your major partners - 46,000 years!"
Like Buckley, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire also denies ever hearing Lumumba being called "chimp" and during the week said the purpose of the club's investigation is to uncover what really happened.
"We want to look after Heritier, we want to find the truth all the way through this," McGuire said on Footy Classified on Wednesday.
"It's not about trying to hide anything or manipulate, this is absolutely going to be straightforward, we want to do something."
Lumumba said what he wants most is an acknowledgment of his experiences.
"There needs to be an acknowledgment (from Collingwood) that, 'Yes, we haven't done enough'," Lumumba told Hack.
"There needs to be an acknowledgment of the individual cases. In my case I'm demanding simply that the AFL and more specifically the Collingwood Football Club, just acknowledge some facts and admit that they don't get everything right and they got this one wrong.
"And that they're ready to sit at the table operating off of that premise."
Originally published as Footy star unleashes on AFL 'cowards'