The Brazilian-born Australian former AFL player Heritier Lumumba shared his experience of racism during his 10-year stint at the Collingwood Football Club first time in the 2017 documentary Fair Game.
On 09 June 2020, days before the AFL restart, Lumumba released a nine-point statement on Twitter, alleging Collingwood didn’t acknowledge he had the nickname of ‘chimp’ during his playing stint and that he was ostracized for speaking out about club president Eddie McGuire’s racism over on-air comments about former AFL player Adam Goodes.
The Collingwood football club operated from the premise that I was wrong to speak out about McGuire’s racism. “You threw the president under the bus”, Nathan Buckley @cdesilva23 @davidzita1 @maxlaughton @wenzel87 pic.twitter.com/OSzB4UICAD
— Hériter Lumumba (@iamlumumba) June 9, 2020
“Culture of Racist and Sexist Jokes”
On 23 June, the Magpies publicly announced that it would launch an official investigation into Lumumba’s claims of a culture of racist and sexiest jokes at the club through their integrity committee, headed by club director Peter Murphy.
The announcement came hours after the Magpies and Richmond players went on their knee in the middle of the MCG to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Following the announcement, Lumumba, who has a Brazilian mother and a Congolese father, declared he had no intention to participate in the club’s investigation until it publicly acknowledges his ‘racist’ claims.
The 6-foot-2 Lumumba explained that he had already detailed all the events to board members, club staff, other players, and in a 2017 documentary film. He wrote on Twitter:
“I have no desire to convince Collingwood of a truth that they already know.”
On 05 July, the Magpies announced the appointment of Professor Larissa Behrendt AO to lead its investigation into a full and frank account. Three days later, Lumumba said the processes of Collingwood’s investigations are deeply flawed in a lengthy series of tweets.
The 33-year-old Lumumba, who came to Australia at the age of three, wrote:
“I’ve had an opportunity to read Collingwood’s latest statement re its ‘internal review’, which includes the appointment of Larissa Behrendt. Unfortunately, this process continues to be deeply flawed.”
“Firstly, my claims are not simply about a nickname that has now been confirmed multiple times. This is about me being punished for standing up to racism within my own club — from other players and the president himself.
1/ I’ve had an opportunity to read Collingwood’s latest statement re its ‘internal review,’ which includes the appointment of Larissa Behrendt. Unfortunately, this process continues to be deeply flawed. Let me explain.
— Hériter Lumumba (@iamlumumba) July 7, 2020
“The person responsible for sending out media statements about the integrity committee is CFC’s head of PR, Stephen Rielly. Reilley (sic) was one of the key individuals involved in punishing me for speaking out about McGuire’s racism towards Adam Goodes in 2013.”
“Reilly had no shame in telling me that I threw McGuire under the bus. Will he be subject to questioning or investigation by the integrity committee?
He ended his lengthy allegations with:
“Why stop the investigation in 2014? After the release of the doco Fair Game in 2017, CFC’s racism continued. (Eddie) McGuire, (Nathan) Buckley & Reilly (sic) chose to push the story that they were simply unaware of the racism that I faced, and that they were ‘concerned’ for my mental health.”
“12/ These men have actively lied to the media and the public on multiple occasions. No matter what the credentials of this integrity commission are, do we really expect them to magically tell the truth to an internal investigation?”
Lumumba now lives in Los Angeles with his wife Aja and their son Yala whom they welcomed on 09 April 2019.
He had joined Collingwood in 2004 and left the club at the end of 2014. He finished his 223-game career with Melbourne.