Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Aussie Rules boss resigns after denying systemic racism

MELBOURNE: The head of Australian Rules Football juggernaut Collingwood resigned on Tuesday after widespread outrage over his response to evidence of systemic racism at the club.

Eddie McGuire—who is also a high-profile sports commentator and television personality—announced his decision to step down, just days after undercutting an independent report that found discrimination was present at all levels of the club.

“Today, effective immediately, I step down from the presidency,” McGuire told media in an emotional statement at the club’s headquarters in Melbourne.

Last year, Collingwood asked Aboriginal academic Larissa Behrendt to investigate claims from former player Heritier Lumumba, who complained of facing racism while at the club, including being nicknamed “chimp”.

The report was damning, describing the club’s culture as more toxic and harmful than any other in the Australian Football League (AFL) — the top tier of the country’s most popular spectator sport. McGuire responded by declaring the report’s publication a “historic and proud day” for the club, before denying “systemic racism” was present.

He said those comments had turned him into a “lightning rod for vitriol”, and it was distracting from the club’s work to address the report’s findings. “Our club, our game and our country haven’t always got it right… and for that we are sorry,” he said.

Indigenous Greens senator Lidia Thorpe—who had publically called for McGuire to quit—labelled his resignation overdue.

“I hope that others take his lead in knowing that you will not get away with systemic racism in this country anymore,” Thorpe told national broadcaster ABC. McGuire leaves the club almost a year earlier than previously intended, after announcing in December he would depart Collingwood at the end of the 2021 season, ending 22 years at the helm.

Source: The News

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