AFL star accused of ‘making up’ nickname
Heritier Lumumba has been caught up in a nasty social media spat with a former teammate over a racist nickname at the centre of his stoush with former club Collingwood.
Lumumba - previously known as Harry O'Brien - represented the Magpies for a decade between 2005 and 2014.
He voiced his accusations during an emotional interview with The Project's Waleed Aly in 2017, and last week a bombshell report found Collingwood guilty of fostering "systemic racism".
At the time, The Project's Peter Helliar questioned why more teammates had not publicly supported Lumumba's claims, and Helliar issued a grovelling apology following the release of the report.
"This report is heartbreaking. To @iamlumumba I am truly, unequivocally sorry. I should have believed you. I will do better," he posed on social media.
But now, former teammate Simon Buckley, who is Indigenous, responded to the report by launching a scathing war of words against Lumumba on Facebook after fellow former player Shae McNamara shared a link to a news article about the racism scandal.
McNamara has been a vocal supporter of Lumumba, confirming he was referred to as "Chimp" at the club.
"He made the nickname up for himself," Buckley posted in the since-deleted exchange.
"He was all for it when he was winning flags and playing well. He would refer to himself as chimp. He all of a sudden 10 years later wants to be a humanitarian.
"He never complained when he was winning flags and getting a kick himself and calling himself that name. Now all of a sudden he's out of the media and wants to be back in the limelight and get a few bucks. Weak as p*ss.
"If he wanted to preach about racism, he shoulda called it out at the time and not run with it and calling himself that for a laugh."
Lumumba later hit back at Buckley's accusations, claiming the nickname "began in 2005, during the pre-season and, no, I did not make it up myself".
"Despite the nickname being overtly racist, unfortunately, it was not the worst facet of the interpersonal racism that I encountered during my 10 years at CFC. Within two months of me being at the club, I had already been exposed to a culture where racist ideas, in the form of jokes, stereotypes and direct abuse, was prevalent," he posted.
He also reiterated that at the time, he was "a young man of 23-24 years of age, and had yet to understand the dangerous implications of the racism that was allowed to proliferate within the club's culture".
'HISTORIC AND PROUD DAY'
When the Collingwood report first landed, president Eddie McGuire said it was a "historic and proud day" and spruiked the club's "fight against racism".
"We make mistakes. We learn, we strive to get better," he said at the time.
"We commissioned this report not to pay lip services to a worldwide tragedy, but to lay the foundations for our game, our people and our community."
But his comments sparked immediate backlash, causing him to backtrack and apologise after failing to say the word "sorry" during his one-hour press conference in response to the report.
"I got it wrong," McGuire said earlier this month at the Collingwood AGM.
"I said it was a proud day, and I shouldn't have.
"I did not mean we were proud of past incidents of racism and the hurt that it caused, I am not. It's been interpreted widely that way, and I regret that deeply."
Originally published as AFL star accused of 'making up' nickname