Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley admits he inadvertently became a part of the “systemic racism” at the club when he dismissed claims made by former Magpies player Héritier Lumumba in 2017.
- Buckley says he had been “dismissive” of Lumumba’s claims about his experiences of racism at the Magpies
- An independent review found the club guilty of “distinct and egregious” systemic racism
- Buckley says the Magpies must commit themselves to making changes to the club’s culture
Buckley was speaking a month after a report — compiled by an independent review commissioned by Collingwood — was made public in which the club was found guilty of “distinct and egregious” systemic racism.
Lumumba’s personal allegations of racism was a key driver to the review being launched.
Former Magpies players Leon Davis and Andrew Krakouer have come forward in recent days to detail their own experiences of racism at the club.
Buckley said he regretted the comments he made in 2017 after the release of the Fair Game documentary that focused on Lumumba’s fight to call out racism at the club.
He said he was “dismissive” of Lumumba’s claims of experiencing racism at the Magpies and he needed to be “better than that”.
“What I now understand is that is a form of systemic racism,” Buckley told the AFL website.
“The dismissing and denial of experience is not a direct act but in many ways it reinforces the pain and trauma that Héritier felt and that Andrew and Leon have spoken about.
“Our internal environment has improved but clearly there’s still work to do and as I said, it’s not about my experience, it’s not about anyone’s experience from a white privileged background, it’s actually about hearing the experiences of people who feel like they’re not being honoured the way they should be.”
Buckley, who played with and coached Lumumba, said the review illustrated it was “long overdue” for the Magpies to acknowledge they needed to overhaul the club’s culture.
“There was a lot of questions, a lot of conversations, and those conversations are the right ones to have,” he said.
“It’s about the experiences of those that feel like they have been marginalised and discriminated against and felt lesser in the environment and that’s over a long period of time.
“There’s a lot of listening that needs to takes place to be acknowledged firstly and then to act on it.”
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire resigned last month in the wake of the report being leaked to the media.
He had labelled the club’s acknowledgment of the report’s findings as representing “a historic and proud day for the Collingwood Football Club” but following significant public criticism of his comments he stepped down from his position eight days later.