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Collingwood Players Release Powerful Public Apology In Wake Of 'Systemic Racism' Report

Collingwood Players Release Powerful Public Apology In Wake Of 'Systemic Racism' Report

Collingwood's players have taken matters in their own hands.

All 150 athletes from Collingwood's Aussie rules and netball teams have issued a public apology, saying they feel "responsible" after a recent report uncovered "systemic racism" within the club.

Allegations of racism and a toxic culture from former defender Heritier Lumumba, AKA Harry O'Brien, had been made in the past and new investigations into the matter confirmed that.

But instead of taking the issue seriously, the club's president Eddie McGuire did the polar opposite.

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Eddie McGuire. Credit: PA
Eddie McGuire. Credit: PA

Speaking in a press conference in the wake of the damning report's release, McGuire opened with: "This is a historic and proud day for the Collingwood Football Club."

He then rambled on for several minutes with no apology given at all.

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This didn't sit well with fans, players and media in the AFL community who slated the Magpies chief.

But while the Millionaire Hot Seat host has since back-tracked on his comments, the players decided to issue their own statement to ensure their voices were heard.

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And for the players to completely disassociate themselves from the club's leader sends a powerful message in itself.

"Sorry. As athletes we are sorry to anyone who, through their association with our club, has been marginalised, hurt or discriminated against due to their race," the open letter read.

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"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 club in order to learn, heal and determine how best to walk forward together.

"Over the last 72 hours we have had the opportunity to digest the DO BETTER report. We also apologise to those members, fans and community who feel guilt and shame as a result of the systemic racism that has occurred within our organisation.

"To all the young people who dream about one day pulling on the black and white stripes, we pledge as athletes to continue to help create a club that allows ALL of us to thrive, regardless of race.

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"Faithfully. This letter is endorsed and supported fully by the 120 staff of Collingwood."

It's a touching sentiment from the people who ultimately matter the most within sports teams: the players.

It's also understood the club held a meeting with players to outline their overall cultural approach moving forward.

As for McGuire, he has copped massive backlash for his remarks with many calling for him to step down.

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@hlumumba

Topics: afl, Racism, press conference, apology, Australia, Statement

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Max Sherry

Max Sherry is a journalist for SPORTbible Australia. After migrating Down Under from London as a teenager, he instantly fell in love with Aussie sport and its culture. From NRL to AFL, cricket to rugby — you name it, Max watches it (with a beer in hand, of course). During his time at Fox Sports, he worked in the football department covering the Premier League, A-League, Socceroos and Matildas. Born a stone's throw away from West Ham's training ground, Max is obviously a die-hard Liverpool fan.