Heritier Lumumba, the retired Brazilian-Congolese AFL star, has described Collingwood as a “boys’ club for racist and sexist jokes” in comments reported by the media ahead of the August 27 screening of the SBS documentary Fair Game. Lumumba played 199 games for Collingwood between 2005-14.
When the club denied the issues he raised, he followed up with a scathing August 24 Facebook post that slammed “the systematic nature of racism in the AFL”.
During his career, Lumumba was an outspoken supporter of struggles for social justice in the face of criticism, including publicly criticising Collinwood president Eddie McGuire for racist comments towards Aboriginal Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes.
On Facebook, Lumumba said: “The nickname ‘Chimp’, that was used during my time at the Collingwood Football Club is just one of countless examples of institutionalized racism within the AFL.
“The systematic nature of racism in the AFL is evident in the operation of Recruitment and List Management departments of football clubs; the management of players by agents; the AFL’s failure to protect its highest profile Aboriginal player, Adam Goodes, from ongoing racism that effectively ended his career; the AFL and Collingwood Football Club’s failure to sanction or penalise Eddie McGuire following his comments comparing Adam Goodes to an ape.
“Furthermore, players like [ex-Gold Coast Suns player] Joel Wilkinson, who have been direct victims of racism, have been threatened and silenced when their experience disrupts the AFL’s comfortable multicultural narrative, along with having their recruitment and careers jeopardized for speaking out.
“It is disappointing that so far the Collingwood Football Club have chosen to minimise and dismiss my experiences. I’m further disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that the AFL and the AFL Players’ Association have made no comment whatsoever about the issues I have raised.
“I am grateful to the players and former teammates who have stood by me and confirmed my story like Shae McNamara. I also recently spoke to [Aboriginal ex-Collingwood player] Leon Davis, who said ‘Your experiences of racism at Collingwood were a continuation of my own experiences at the club. I stand side by side with you.’”