Héritier Lumumba: former player sues Collingwood and AFL over alleged racism

Guardian sport
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Héritier Lumumba has reportedly launched a lawsuit against Collingwood Football Club and the AFL over alleged racist abuse he received at the club when he was a player.

The Age reported on Thursday that Lumumba, who spent 10 years with the Magpies, had filed a writ in the Victorian supreme court alleging Collingwood breached its duty of care.

The file also alleges both the club and the AFL failed to provide him with a safe working environment.

Related: If you stand up against racism in Australian sport you pay a heavy price | Héritier Lumumba

According to the report, the court documents state the AFL “owed a duty to the plaintiff [Lumumba] to take reasonable steps to prevent players subjecting other players to racial abuse and racially-offensive conduct, and to impose sanctions on players who breached those rules”.

The writ stated Lumumba had suffered “loss, damage, and injury including trauma, humiliation, distress, and loss of enjoyment”.

“On numerous occasions during his employment, the plaintiff was subjected to racial abuse or racially-offensive conduct.

“[Collingwood] failed to take any or any sufficient steps to provide and maintain a safe working environment, including by protecting the plaintiff from racial abuse or racially-offensive conduct.”

Guardian Australia has sought the court documents and comment from Collingwood and the AFL.

In June, Collingwood said its integrity committee would conduct an independent investigation into the allegations, including that Lumumba was nicknamed “chimp” and that the club failed to support him.

But Lumumba has consistently refused to meet privately with the club or to facilitate a reconciliation over the claims he endured a “culture of racist jokes”, saying it was insulting the club would investigate itself.

In July, the club appointed Indigenous professor Larissa Behrendt to lead the investigation, and said it expected it to produce a “full and frank account”.

Lumumba left Collingwood at the end of 2014 before finishing his 223-game career with Melbourne.