Former player sues AFL and ex-club over 'racist abuse'

Sydney (AFP) –


A former Australian Rules player has launched legal action against the AFL and his ex-club over racial abuse he claims was directed at him throughout his career that caused trauma and distress.

Heritier Lumumba, who is of Brazilian and Congolese heritage, filed a writ in the Supreme Court of Victoria alleging his former club Collingwood breached its duty of care and contractual obligations.

It also claimed both the club and the Australian Football League failed to provide a safe working environment.

"On numerous occasions during his employment, the plaintiff (Lumumba) was subjected to racial abuse or racially-offensive conduct," said the documents, lodged Wednesday.

Lumumba, who made 199 appearances for Collingwood during a 10-year stint that ended in 2014, claimed both players and club employees were responsible.

The suit said Collingwood and the AFL should have been aware of what was happening and intervened, contending he suffered "loss, damage, and injury including trauma, humiliation, distress, and loss of enjoyment".

No specific examples were included in the court filing, but Lumumba, 33, has previously claimed he was nicknamed "chimp" while at the club.

He went public with his allegations earlier this year and Collingwood pledged an independent investigation "in an effort to search for the truth".

The results have yet to be handed down and both Collingwood and the AFL had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.

Australia's most popular spectator sport, which is similar to Ireland's Gaelic football, has long been blighted by racism claims.

The AFL began proactively tackling such issues in the 1990s, adopting a policy that made it an offence for players or officials to insult someone due to their race, religion, ethnicity, colour, nationality or background.

But problems persist.