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Collingwood Football Club Guilty Of Systemic Racism In Independent Review

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Collingwood Football Club Guilty Of Systemic Racism In Independent Review

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he Collingwood Football Club has been described as ‘guilty of systemic racism’, as part of an independent review commissioned by the AFL club, reported by the ABC.

The ABC revealed the Collingwood board received the review more than one month ago on December 17, and it came just days before Collingwood president, Eddie McGuire, announced he would step down as club president at the end of 2021.

The review, which was completed by University of Technology Sydney Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research directors, Professor Larissa Behrendt, and Professor Lindon Coombes, claimed racism at Collingwood had resulted in “profound and enduring harm” to First Nations and African players which “affected them, their communities, and set dangerous norms for the public.”

“While claims of racism have been made across the AFL, there is something distinct and egregious about Collingwood’s history,” the report said.

“In the thirty interviews undertaken for this review, there was no clear consensus about what the values of the Collingwood Football Club were.

“Collingwood claims to be guided by four formal values, belonging, commitment, realising potential, and caring.

“There is a gap between what Collingwood Football Club says it stands for and what it does…

“All of this comes back to the leadership of the Collingwood Football Club, particularly its board, and the need for them to set the vision and values of the club and to drive structural change within the organisation.

“[There is] a genuine acknowledgement of past failures and a strong desire to do better,” the independent review report said.

In the report were 18 recommendations for Collingwood to ensure accountability for acts of racism and develop a successful strategy to address and reconcile past acts.

As part of the report, Collingwood was found to be more likely to react to media coverage about a racist incident than complaints made within the club, with the club’s response perceived as one to deal with claims in terms of damage control and protecting the brand.

The report also claimed those who have raised issues within the club felt they paid a high price for speaking out, and the incidents heightens the risk of public grievance and negative publicity that impacts the club, its staff, its players, and its supporters.

Included in the 18 recommendation are:

  • Undertake a board audit to ensure its membership, through behaviour and beliefs, reflects its goals of diversity and individually embrace the values of the club, including the principles of anti-racism and inclusion.
  • Implement a framework to ensure that there is accountability and consequences for acts of racism committed by members of the club community.
  • Ensure the development and implementation of an employment strategy that values diversity and reports against KPIs, including the player group and the coaching staff.
  • Develop a clear pipeline for the development of talent from diverse communities into the club, and which proactively supports First Nations and people of colour into post-playing positions, particularly coaching, within the club and the AFL.
  • Develop a process of “truth-telling” as a constructive step to more deeply understand the experiences of First Nations people and people of colour, their history and culture and the impacts of racism.
  • Develop a strategy to address and reconcile past acts of racism in a way that is proactive and seeks to reward, not punish, people who speak out against racism.
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