Under-siege Collingwood president Eddie McGuire admits he got it wrong when labelling a leaked report that uncovered systemic racism at the AFL club as a proud day for the Magpies.
An independent investigation – commissioned by the club’s board last year after long-standing allegations from former star defender Heritier Lumumba – found Collingwood guilty of a toxic culture of racism.
Lumumba, who played in the Magpies’ last premiership in 2010, feels vindicated by the findings of the report after first raising the alarm on concerns about racism at Collingwood in 2013.
The 34-year-old on Tuesday slammed the club and McGuire for how they conducted themselves throughout the investigation and during a widely criticised media conference.
McGuire, who will walk away as the club’s leader at year’s end, opened Monday’s conference with a statement describing the release of the report as a “day of pride” and claimed the club was not racist.
But at Collingwood’s annual general meeting on Tuesday night, he back-tracked on those comments.
“I got it wrong. I said it was a proud day and I shouldn’t have,” McGuire told the club’s members.
“I’m sorry that my error has a distraction from the importance of the findings on racism and the work that lies ahead.”
Earlier, Lumumba was scathing in McGuire’s attempts to “spin” his way out of trouble.
“What I saw was a clear case of cowardice,” Lumumba told the ABC on Tuesday.
“It was a clear case of a football club that is delusional.
“If that’s the way Collingwood wants to address (the release of) an independent report, that it did not want out there.
“I have been asking Collingwood football club since late last year when I knew they had the report, I have been asking them for it but it was not given to me.
“It was actually sad I had to receive that from media sources.”
Lumumba does not hold McGuire “solely responsible” for Collingwood’s culture but believes the long-serving president needs to take more accountability as leader of the club’s board.
Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declined to call for McGuire’s resignation, telling reporters on Tuesday: “I don’t think running away from challenges is leadership, whether it’s in a footy club or any other role.
“I would have thought if you commission a report, you front it and you’re committed to doing what you can to fix it.
“That’s a good thing, isn’t it? Not the issue, but the response.
“It was a sad day, but a significant day.”