‘A day of pride’: Eddie McGuire criticised after addressing ‘systemic racism’ report findings

Collingwood Football Club’s hierarchy addressed the leaked ‘Do Better’ report that found evidence of “systemic racism” within the club. The press conference received backlash online with some calling it ‘spin’.

Collingwood President Eddie McGuire.

An independent investigation has found Collingwood guilty of "systemic racism". Source: AAP

Collingwood Football Club president Eddie McGuire opened the press conference addressing the leaked independent 'Do Better' report - which evidence of "systemic racism" within the club - by saying, "This is a historic and proud day the for Collingwood football club."

"We have decided as a club that this fight against racism and discrimination is where we want to be," he said.

"We're delivering something we can build on, that we hope will be a landmark situation for the world."

The report was leaked by the Herald Sun this morning. McGuire sat alongside CEO Mark Anderson and Integrity Committee directors Jodie Sizer and Peter Murphy to answer questions in its wake. However, his comments made during the press conference have been widely criticised.

He defended the club's position, citing a positive reaction from the club to the global Black Lives Matter movement.

"We wanted to seize the moment, to look at what's happening in world affairs over the last 12 months in particular, and to put ourselves in front of things,' he said.

He referred to his 'pride' several times for commissioning an independent report, and for their decision to take action on the recommendations.

The report was spearheaded by Professor Larissa Behrendt, who is a Eualeyai/Kamilaroi woman, and Professor Lindon Coombes from the University of Technology in Sydney

Despite the report's findings of systemic racism, McGuire said in the press conference, "it wasn't systemic racism as such, it was just that we didn't have the processes in place [to] deal with it that we do now."

The report explained that even though there are claims of racism within the whole of the AFL there was something "distinct and egregious about Collingwood's history."

"What is clear is that racism at the club has resulted in profound and enduring harm to First Nations and African players. The racism affected them, their communities, and set dangerous norms for the public," the report read.

McGuire was asked in the press conference if any organisations he's led received the kind of criticism that Collingwood has within the report. He replied, "This is not criticism, this is a review we asked to have".

"It's very strong because we asked the organisation to go as hard as they possibly could to give us the base to build the future of this club," he said.

The address drew a lot of attention from on-lookers, some of whom were surprised by McGuire's positive framing of the report.

Others compared it to the infamous press conference given by Rudy Giuliani as the US election count swung sharply towards Joe Biden.

McGuire said of Collingwood, "we're not a racist club" but rather one that endeavours to do well.

"We didn't want a beauty competition. We wanted to find out what we need to do things better," he said.

"We went and got the hardest, most credentialed people to drill down as hard as they possibly could to tell us where we are.

He also highlighted the club's numerous sporting teams and diversity, which received criticism by people on social media.

McGuire was asked in the press conference about engaging with former player Heritier Lumumba who alleges his nickname for almost a decade at the club was 'chimp'.

"We'd love to sit down with Heritier...we want to engage with Heritier. He's one of our guys," McGuire said.

"He doesn't feel that way at the moment and it breaks our heart."

, coming weeks after Lumumba detailed his experiences at the club on social media. 

The news of the review came two days before that included two new former Collingwood teammates of Lumumba coming forward for the first time to corroborate the allegation surrounding the nickname ‘chimp’.

Lumumba told The Feed last June, referring to Collingwood: "You use the 'Black Lives Matter' hashtag, now you've entered the discussion. Let's talk about black lives. And let's talk about how it was clear that my black life didn't matter to you at the time that I was at the club."

Former teammates Chris Dawes and Brent Macaffer came forward.

"The nickname 'the chimp' and stuff like that which absolutely I remember clearly like that was [his] nickname from whenever I got to the football club in 2006," Brent Macaffer told The Feed.

While Chris Dawes told The Feed, "You mentioned the nickname 'chimp'. I heard that a couple times." 


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5 min read
Published 1 February 2021 at 6:07pm
By Ahmed Yussuf
Source: SBS