Australian Rules: Former players decry Collingwood response to racism report

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former Collingwood Magpies player Heritier Lumumba has labelled the Australian Football League (AFL) club's response to a report that uncovered systemic racism as "cowardice" and "delusional".

Collingwood's long-serving president Eddie McGuire told reporters on Monday it was "an historic and proud day" for the club after an independent review found racism had resulted in "profound and enduring harm to First Nations and African players."

In a 50-minute media conference, McGuire and senior Collingwood executives said the club would address the report's recommendations but denied it was a "racist club".

Brazil-born Lumumba, who said he endured a "culture of racist jokes" while playing at Collingwood from 2005-14, said the response showed the club did not accept the findings of the report.

"What I saw was a clear case of cowardice," Lumumba told ABC radio on Tuesday.

"It was a clear case of a football club that is delusional.

"They keep pointing to courage and they're the ones who are leading the charge (against racism). No, they are absolutely not the ones leading the charge."

Former Collingwood player Tony Armstrong, an Indigenous Australian footballer who played six games for Collingwood in 2014-15, also criticised the team's response.

"It was disappointing that (the media conference) didn’t open with an apology," Armstrong said in comments published by The Age newspaper.

"Very disappointing ... Also, they never said they were racist. It would have been great (had they done so)."

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

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Kim Coghill)