Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says he’s keen to reach out to Heritier Lumumba, but the former Magpie has no interest in sitting down with the AFL club’s hierarchy behind closed doors.
Lumumba, who alleges he was subjected to racist taunts during his time at the club, wants a public acknowledgement that his claims are true before he will engage in discussions.
“Interesting that Collingwood is now shifting its narrative to claim that they are trying to ‘reach out’ to me,” Lumumba tweeted on Friday.
“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. I want justice for how I was treated. That includes correcting public denials about my account of the racism and isolation I faced.
“Collingwood needs to acknowledge the following: They did not have the cultural competence and organisational literacy to deal with a real culture of racism at the club, of which I was a victim for a number of years.”
After Collingwood’s draw with Richmond in the AFL season re-opener on Thursday night, Buckley said he’d not spoken to Lumumba since the former defender was traded to Melbourne.
“I’m not comfortable with the fact that Heritier feels like he’s been belittled and diminished in our environment,” Buckley said.
“I haven’t spoken to ‘H’ since 2014. I’d love to speak to him again.
“I would love to have him come to his old football club and to see what we have become, and the culture of acceptance, a celebration of difference no matter your colour, your religion or whatever your upbringing has been.”
Lumumba took to social media this week to detail his experiences during 10 years at the Magpies, claiming he endured a “culture of racist jokes” and took magic mushrooms to cope with the situation.
The 33-year-old, who retired from football in 2016 after repeated concussion problems, also accused Buckley of failing to adequately support him.
Lumumba said neither the AFL nor Collingwood had the capacity or desire to address the issues he raised, branding them both “negligent”.
He also reiterated the claim that he was called “Chimp” by Collingwood teammates, which was publicly backed up by Andrew Krakouer in 2017.
While not specifically addressing that claim, Buckley said Collingwood had “been able to grow as an environment” in the time that has passed since Lumumba left.
“Collingwood is making statements about their ‘growth’,” Lumumba continued.
“But this has dragged out over six years because they have refused to take the step of acknowledging that my account of my experience was true.
“Growth means accountability. Reconciliation without accountability is not possible.”