Australian Rules: Collingwood promise change after review finds 'systemic' racism at club

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(Reuters) - An independent review of Collingwood Magpies has found "systemic" racism within the Australian Football League (AFL) club and has called for the problem to be addressed.

Collingwood said in June they would investigate allegations of racism made by former defender Heritier Lumumba who played 199 games for the team from 2005-14.

Brazil-born Lumumba had said on social media he endured a "culture of racist jokes" and was nicknamed "Chimp" while at the club. He added that coach Nathan Buckley had failed to support him.

"We support and endorse the recommendations in the report and commit to addressing the systemic issues – the lack of sufficient organisational capacity and procedures - raised in the report. These will be addressed as a matter of urgency," Collingwood chief executive Mark Anderson said in a statement

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said they wanted to engage with Lumumba, who did not wish to be involved in the review.

"He's one of our guys. He doesn't feel that at the moment and it breaks our heart," McGuire, who will leave his role at the end of the year, told reporters.

"We want him desperately to be one of us. We want to show everyone this is what we're all about. We're not a mean-spirited club... not a racist club."

The report recommended concepts of anti-racism and inclusion be integrated into Collingwood's values.

"I'm absolutely dedicated... to make sure that we roll out all of these recommendations but also build on that. That's what I want to build in the next 12 months," McGuire said.

AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said the league will review the report's findings before taking action.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)