Aboriginal AFL star Leon Davis has backed up the allegations made by his former Collingwood teammate Heritier Lumumba about racism inside the club, saying he “shared his pain and grief” as a Black man.
Lumumba, of Brazilian-Congolese background, told of the bigotry he experienced at the club in the SBS documentary Fair Game, which explored his difficult experiences as a Black man in Australia. Lumumba, who played 199 games for Collingwood between 2005-14 and was part of the 2010 premiership side alongside Davis, described the club as a “racist, sexist boys club”.
He also spoke of his disgust at the predominance of homophobia and his anger at being mocked when he raised the issue.
Davis told Buzzfeed News: “I went through all that as well, and it’s disappointing because what happened to [Lumumba] happened to me early in my career.”
Another Aboriginal Collingwood teammate of Lumumba and Davis, Andrew Krakouer, backed up Lumumba’s claims that he had been given the nickname of “Chimp” while at the club.
Krakouer told the September 3 Herald Sun that he had heard it “multiple times” and that “straight away I thought it was a racist remark”.
Krakouer said he also “suffered as a player due to a lack of cultural understanding by [Collingwood] and by some of my teammates”.
Meanwhile, the September 4 Herald Sun reported that the AFL said it had responded to the controversy by meeting Lumumba to discuss the issues he raised. However, Lumumba has denied he had met any AFL officials to discuss the matter.
But in an exclusive, New Matilda published leaked emails on September 7 that revealed the AFL’s claims were false, and that no meeting had taken place when it made the claim.