• Coach Nathan Buckley with Héritier Lumumba at Etihad Stadium on May 3, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Getty Images AsiaPac)Source: Getty Images AsiaPac
Before the AFL restart last night, players took a knee for Black Lives Matter, and after the game, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said claims of racial abuse from a former player needed to be spoken about.
By
Douglas Smith

Source:
NITV News
12 Jun 2020 - 3:21 PM  UPDATED 12 Jun 2020 - 8:34 PM

With the Black Lives Matter movement highlighting racial discrimination around the world, former Collingwood premiership player, Héritier Lumumba, spoke out again against his old club this week, detailing the years of racial abuse he endured during his time there. 

In a social media post on Tuesday, Lumumba, who now lives in Los Angeles, said he was nicknamed “chimp”, and claimed there was a “culture of racist jokes” at the Collingwood football club. 

Lumumba, who played 199 games for Collingwood from 2005 to 2014, said he was "ostracised" in 2013, after he spoke out about the racial abuse he received at the club. 

“I spoke out against McGuire’s racism, on 28/5/2013 and was ostracised internally for doing so, particularly from Buckley, who stated, ‘you threw the president under the bus’,” Lumumba's post read. 

“They viewed what I did as wrong and remained unapologetic about it and as a result, I was treated differently for the worse.

"It had a negative impact on my health and general well-being." 

After Thursday night’s game, Buckley made himself available for questions regarding the claims made by Lumumba, however, no journalists present submitted a question.

Buckley spoke on the player's actions before the game, where both sides took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

"I think everyone has been impacted and had their eyes opened by the events over in America, and it's definitely shone a light on the same issues of systemic racism in our culture," he said. 

Buckley went on to say that he was uncomfortable with the fact that there was a “dis-gruntled ex-player” who felt like he was “belittled” and “diminished” during his time at the club. 

"Clearly the thing that needs to be spoken about is the fact that, with ‘H’ … we have a disgruntled ex-player in this particular issue of racism,” said Buckley. 

"I speak for the club generally but I have to speak for myself. I'm not comfortable with the fact Harry, sorry, Héritier, feels like he's been belittled and diminished in our environment.

"I haven't spoken to 'H' since 2014... I'd love to speak to him again."

However, on Friday, Lumumba hit back at Buckley's comments in a string of social media posts.  

"Interesting that Collingwood is now shifting its narrative to claim that they are trying to 'reach out' to me," he tweeted.

"Let me (be) very clear: I have no intention of sitting down with anyone until they publicly acknowledge some fundamental facts.

"Why a public acknowledgement? Because I have been discredited publicly. I don't want a private handshake.”

Lumumba said he wants Collingwood FC to publicly acknowledge that they denied his accounts of the racial abuse he received when he spoke to them about it. 

"I want justice for how I was treated. That includes correcting public denials about my account of the racism & isolation I faced."

TEAMMATES SUPPORT LUMUMBA'S CLAIMS

On Tuesday, following Lumumba's initial post about the racial abuse he received during his time at Collingwood, several former teammates jumped to his defence via social media. 

Former ruckman, Shae McNamara, said he didn't find it funny that Lumumba was nicknamed "chimp", as it seemed like it was all fun and banter to others within the club.

“People genuinely thought this was funny,” McNamara commented on Lumumba's post. 

“I did not find it funny at all and remind them that it was messed up and that they should never ever say this outside of the walls of the club.

“They said that they knew that, but he was OK with it. Because it was all in good fun/banter.

“I rolled my eyes.”

Former forward, Chris Egan, who played at the club from 2005 to 2008, said he publicly defended Lumumba, and that racism was a problem within every [football] league in Australia. 

“I came out publicly in your defence via social media brother, it’s a problem within every league within Australia.

"The bench mark, AFL should have done more to support you/us through that.

"Keep being a voice brother because one thing we won’t do is remain silent anymore.. I’ve got your back always and you know that."

NITV News has reached out to the Collingwood Football Club for comment. 

AFL great Nicky Winmar takes a knee during Yokayi Footy Show
The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired AFL greats and players to take a stance against racism and black deaths in custody ahead of football’s restart tonight, where players from both sides will take a knee.