MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian Football League (AFL) club Collingwood Magpies have said they will investigate allegations of racism made by their former defender Heritier Lumumba.
Brazil-born Lumumba, who played 199 games for the Magpies from 2005-14, said on social media earlier this month he had endured a “culture of racist jokes” and was nicknamed “Chimp” while at the club.
He also said Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley had failed to support him enough when he called out racism at the club and he ended up losing his place in the team’s leadership group.
Magpies director Jodie Sizer said the club wanted to talk to Lumumba, who said he would not sit down with officials until receiving a public apology.
“This is a serious issue. As a board we have come together and unanimously agreed we need to take action,” she said in a club statement late on Monday.
“From my perspective the whole of Australia is on an important journey as it deals with racism, the impacts of racism and considers what, as a nation, we want to be and are to become.”
Lumumba, 33, said he was isolated at Collingwood after calling out club president Eddie McGuire for making a racist joke on radio about Aboriginal footballer Adam Goodes in 2013.
Responding to the allegations earlier this month, McGuire defended Collingwood’s record on fighting racism and said he had tried to reach out to the retired footballer to find a solution.
Outrage over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last month has brought the issue of racism to the fore in Australian Rules football, where Aboriginal players particularly suffer online abuse.
Carlton Blues forward Eddie Betts highlighted racist abuse he receives on social media last week after a Twitter user posted a picture of a monkey with a reference to the Aboriginal player.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford
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