MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former Collingwood Magpies halfback Heritier Lumumba has rejected an overture from the Australian Football League team, saying he will not sit down with staff until they publicly acknowledge a “culture of racism” at the club.
Lumumba, who played nearly 200 games for the Melbourne-based side from 2005-14, launched a scathing attack on social media this week, saying he had endured racist jokes at Collingwood and been ostracised by staff for complaining.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said on Thursday he was uncomfortable that Lumumba had felt “a little bit diminished” at the club and wanted to invite the Brazil-born player back to show him the Magpies’ “culture of acceptance”.
Lumumba responded on Twitter on Friday that he had no intention of sitting down with the club until it acknowledged “fundamental facts”.
“Why a public acknowledgement? Because I have been discredited publicly,” he wrote.
“I don’t want a private handshake. I want justice for how I was treated. That includes correcting public denials about my account of the racism and isolation I faced.”
Lumumba publicly criticised Collingwood’s long-serving president Eddie McGuire on social media in 2013 for making a racist joke on radio about Aboriginal former player Adam Goodes. McGuire later apologised for the joke.
Lumumba said he had been “punished and isolated” at Collingwood in the wake of calling out McGuire.
“I was excluded from leadership meetings and suddenly dropped from the leadership group without a reasonable explanation.
“In my final meeting (at Collingwood), I was told it was because I had ‘thrown the president under the bus.’”
McGuire told a football chat-show on Wednesday that Collingwood were trying to “find a solution” with Lumumba.
“We’re not defending ourselves,” he said.
Lumumba’s allegations overshadowed the resumption of the AFL on Thursday after a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus and the league’s announcement of a revised broadcast deal for the 2020-22 seasons.
The AFL on Friday hailed a two-year extension of its rights deal with Channel Seven up to the end of the 2024 season, which it said would bring “security and certainty” to the game.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Christopher Cushing