Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has fronted Melbourne media and detailed that an independent review’s findings of systemic racism at the club should only be seen as a “day of pride” for the Magpies.
McGuire, Magpies chief executive Mark Anderson and members of their Integrity Committee, held a livestreamed press conference following findings of systemic racism at the club.
The report has seen a vocal backlash from public and critics alike but the Pies boss refused to see the revelations as a negative outcome, stopping short of an apology and opening the event as: “A historic and proud day for the Collingwood Football Club.”
“We have spent the last six years in a deep dive into how we can make ourselves better, provide leadership and conversation in the community as only Collingwood can. We have decided as a club that this fight against racism and discrimination is where we want to be,” McGuire continued.
The 35-page report was commissioned by Collingwood and authored by Professor Larissa Behrendt and Professor Lindon Coombes, but McQuire denied that the independent review was sparked directly from ex-Magpie Heritier Lumumba’s voicing racial issues from his time at the club.
Lumumba filed claims in October 2020 alleging the Magpies breached a duty of care and said he was subjected to racial abuse or racially offensive conduct.
“There is a gap between what Collingwood Football Club says it stands for and what it does.” McGuire said.
“While claims of racism have been made across the AFL, there is something distinct and egregious about Collingwood’s history.”
While McGuire will stand down after the 2021 season following 23 years in the role, he rejected calls to relinquish his presidency immediately.
The ‘Do Better’ report proposed “reparations, compensation, public apology, and commitments to reform” were possible options for Collingwood to make amends for their errors in the past.
The club’s wording in today’s press conference is similar to a prediction made by via Lumumba’s social media in December when the report was first announced.
In a five-part Tweet from December, the 223-game player with Collingwood and Melbourne Lumumba foreshadowed that any findings from the review would only be buried as “new initiatives”.
“As usual, CFC have tried to spin this to avoid associating Eddie’s departure with the findings of the review, by making no mention of it publicly,” he said.
“No doubt their intention is to bury the report in ‘new initiatives’ around ‘equality’ as mentioned by McGuire in his speech.”