Former Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has responded to Heritier Lumumba’s accusations that he was racially vilified throughout his football career.
Lumumba has stated he was referred to as “chimp” throughout his time at the club, among other incidents that eventually led to his disenfranchisement with the club.
When asked directly on ABC Grandstand whether he can remember Lumumba being racially vilified by anyone at Collingwood, Malthouse said “absolutely not”.
The premiership coach added that he can’t recall whether Lumumba ever was referred to by the offensive nickname.
“I can’t say no to that because when I heard that about a year ago or two years ago I was trying to relate it back – did I hear it or didn’t I hear it … I can’t remember him being called that and if he was, it wasn’t something I jumped up and thought is he worried about it?” Malthouse said.
“We had a great relationship and he never mentioned anything to me while I was at the football club that he was embarrassed or hurt or anything other than the fact that he got on so well with his teammates.
“I was surprised to find out he didn’t get along with Nathan (Buckley), but again the connotations of anything sort of racial, no, that never entered my mind that they had any blues.
“I knew he had run-in with Eddie McGuire. Again, I didn’t know what it was about because it’s all hearsay and you don’t want to (say something) unless you get the facts.”
Malthouse said if he had heard someone racially attack Lumumba, he would have “jumped on it straight away”.
“He was a very important part of our football side. It hurts a lot to think that he thought he was vilified at any stage and we didn’t do anything about it,” he said.
“I would have jumped on it straight away and I reckon his teammates would have jumped on it too.”
🏉📺 #AFL legend Mick Malthouse says he doesn't recall any form of racism towards Héritier Lumumba from Collingwood players while he was coaching at the club.— ABC Grandstand (@abcgrandstand) June 12, 2020
Malthouse hit back at critics of the club culture by saying they played for one another and has no regrets of the side. pic.twitter.com/bRjaRWQa7L