The letter – in which players said they were “sorry to anyone who, through their association with our club, has been marginalised, hurt or discriminated against due to their race” – has been met with mixed reactions, with many Twitter users asking why the AFL club’s president, Eddie McGuire, “still hasn’t apologised properly”, leaving it to the players to demonstrate this “leadership”.
“Incredible that the players themselves have to make this statement after the shocking inaction from management over the last few days,” one person wrote on Twitter. “This is the very first step that should’ve happened as soon as the report was presented.”
Another person wrote, “Ridiculous when the current President of the Club still hasn’t apologised properly and is a serial offender. Completely inadequate. Tell Eddie to resign, then we’ll take Collingwood seriously.”
Some Twitter users said the letter from the players represented “exactly what leadership looks like”.
“At least the players have the courage,” one person wrote, while another penned, “This is exactly what leadership looks like. Well done to the players and the staff at the club.”
An independent review this week found “systemic” racism within the Collingwood Magpies and called for the problem to be addressed.
Collingwood President Eddie McGuire on Tuesday was forced to backtrack on his disastrous comments describing the report’s release as “an historic and proud day” for the Magpies. The review found that racism had resulted in “profound and enduring harm to First Nations and African players.”
Former Magpies player Heritier Lumumba labelled the club’s response to a report that uncovered systemic racism as “cowardice” and “delusional”.
Brazil-born Lumumba, who said he endured a “culture of racist jokes” while playing at Collingwood from 2005 to 2014, said the response showed the club did not accept the findings of the report.
“What I saw was a clear case of cowardice,” Lumumba told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“It was a clear case of a football club that is delusional.
“They keep pointing to courage, and they’re the ones who are leading the charge (against racism). No, they are absolutely not the ones leading the charge.”
McGuire said the club had “fully intended to make public” the report before it was revealed by the media “prematurely”.
Collingwood players said in their joint apology on Thursday that over the “last 72 hours” they had been given “the opportunity to digest” the report.
“Through our silence we feel responsible for these injustices. We acknowledge it is not enough to simply show support for the principles of anti-racism and inclusion. We will confront the history of our cub in order to learn, heal and determine how best to walk forward together.”
With files from Reuters.
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