At 8, He Was Called a 'Monkey' on The Field, Says A Brazilian Footballer who Denounced Racism in Australia

Héritier Lumumba prompted investigation into the country's largest Australian football team

São Paulo

Before answering the first question, Héritier Lumumba, 34, flips the script and asks the reporter about his own experience with racism. Lumumba, a former Australian football player, agreed to only tell his story to a black journalist.

He was born in Rio, son of a mother from Manaus. His father, a Congolese, met her in Brazil when he was fleeing the war in Angola (the country where he had been living). When he went into exile in Australia with the help of the UN, his wife, Lumumba, and his brother accompanied him and went to live in Oceania.

Héritier Lumumba jogando pelo Collingwood
Héritier Lumumba (Crédito: arquivo pessoal) - Arquivo pessoal

The local media was the protagonist of one of the hardest moments in the player's career in 2013. Already considered an ace in the sport in which he stood out for his swing, he saw then President of Collingwood, Eddie McGuire, make a joke with the Aborigines and the King Kong movie. That's when he decided to call it out publicly, on social media.

When he saw Australian Football League (AFL) clubs posting in support of the Black Lives Matter protests, he mobilized as much force as he could on social media to recall his case.

"The game has changed," he says. He became the pivot of a crisis in Australian sport, which led to the opening of an independent investigation at Collingwood that concluded that there was systemic racism within the club at the end of last year, resulting in McGuire's resignation.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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