One of Heritier Lumumba’s former teammates has supported allegations the Collingwood star was called “Chimp” from within the club.
One of Heritier Lumumba’s former teammates has supported allegations the Collingwood star was called “Chimp” from within the club.

Footy teammate confirms ‘Chimp’ nickname

Former Collingwood player Seamus McNamara has supported Heritier Lumumba's allegations he was subjected to racial slurs while representing the club.

Brazilian-born Lumumba recently claimed there was a "culture of racist jokes" at Collingwood Football Club, which had a "negative impact" on his mental health and general wellbeing. He also believed he was "ostracised internally" after speaking out against the racism.

McNamara was a member of the Magpies squad for three years, and confirmed the defender was called "Chimp" from teammates. The 35-year-old also revealed he called out a Pies veteran after using the derogatory slur.

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Heritier Lumumba played 199 AFL games for Collingwood before signing with the Melbourne Demons
Heritier Lumumba played 199 AFL games for Collingwood before signing with the Melbourne Demons

Speaking to SEN Breakfast, McNamara conceded Collingwood mishandled the Lumumba situation, blaming the errors on "ignorance" and "arrogance".

"When I saw some of the things that were being said, I immediately told (Lumumba), 'Excuse me, this is unique. This is not unlike anything I've seen in America growing up playing basketball and seeing the demographics that I became really close friends with'." McNamara said on Friday.

"That was the beginning of our relationship and that was the beginning of me letting him know that I see it. He just told me it's probably best not to say anything because it's going to cause too much commotion and distract what we're trying to focus in on - and that to me would have broken my heart.

"When I did hear the jokes of, 'Hey Chimp', once I heard it for the first time, I went to the individual directly who was a seasoned (veteran) … I said, 'People aren't calling Kobe (Bryant) that. No one in America would ever tell an African American that without carrying a gun or ready to fight. We just don't do that'.

"And when he said, 'I know I know, it's just our thing, it's just for fun', I said, 'You don't ever say that outside of this club', and he goes, 'I know I know'.

"From that interaction they knew it was touchy-feely around that sensitivity of doing something that's inappropriate, but the ignorance and possibly a little bit of arrogance thinking, 'It's fine, he's cool with it', really rubbed me wrong in that way.

"We need to acknowledge that we made a mistake and we could have been better and that we can be the forefront leaders - as in Collingwood - I think this is a great way for them to be the trailblazers in setting a precedent for the AFL, the sporting world of Australia, the business world of Australia and Australian culture as a whole."

Seamus McNamara was the first American-born player to represent Collingwood.
Seamus McNamara was the first American-born player to represent Collingwood.

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Earlier this month, Lumumba accused Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley of failing to adequately support him after calling out racism towards the end of his ten-year stint at the club.

"How can Nathan Buckley claim he 'didn't hear' the 'chimp' nickname? I sat through a torturous, 8-hour, 1-on-1 mediation with him, where I had to explain to him why I was affected. How can I take him on his word now?" Lumumba said.

"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."

McNamara believed it was "possible" Buckley never head the "Chimp" nickname, but was reluctant to accept the former Brownlow medallist was unaware of the racial slurs.

"It wasn't like when he was walking by everyone was like, 'Hey Chimp' and were making monkey sounds, they weren't doing that," McNamara said.

"But when it was time to have fun and play and joke away when I saw it, that's when I heard it.

"As far as the honesty of what coach Bucks is saying, I take his word for sure, but I think it would be a little bit of a stretch to not know by now and everyone else that's been part of the culture in the past, to not say anything that they did hear it.

"I think that's their way of saving their own face."

Magpies head coach Nathan Buckley.
Magpies head coach Nathan Buckley.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire claimed he "never heard" the nickname "Chimp" used to describe Lumumba during his time at the club.

On Wednesday, Lumumba said he wanted nothing to do with the club's proposed "integrity" process.

 

Originally published as Pies teammate confirms 'Chimp' nickname