Damning reports revealed the Magpies fostered ‘systemic racism’ that ‘has resulted in profound and enduring harm to First Nations and African players’.
Just days after McGuire suddenly revealed he was stepping down, a scathing report was made public, finding the club’s attempts to deal with allegations of racism were either ‘ineffective’ or ‘exacerbated’ the situation.
Delivered to club executives on December 17 but kept secret until Monday, the report’s authors said Collingwood was now perceived by some as ‘synonymous with off-field and on-field racism in Australian sport’.
The review follows ex-Collingwood player Heritier Lumumba suing the Magpies over claims he was subjected to racial abuse while playing with the team.
During a Collingwood press conference on Monday, McGuire, 56, said it ‘breaks our heart’ that Lumumba doesn’t want to be associated with the club.
‘We’re not a mean-spirited club, we’re not a racist club. I hope this provokes conversation tonight in every household, in all of your workplaces,’ he said.
‘We have decided as a club that this fight against racism and discrimination is where we want to be. We make mistakes. We learn, we strive to get better.
‘We commissioned this report not to pay lip services to a worldwide tragedy, but to lay the foundations for our game, our people and our community.’
McGuire denied there was any ‘systemic racism’ at Collingwood, and said that on his watch they ‘built a fantastic club’.
‘It was not systemic racism, as such, we just didn’t have the processes to deal with it that we do now. I don’t think there’s any shame or disappointment here… this is a day of pride,’ he said.
On Tuesday, McGuire was forced to respond to scathing criticisms of how he referred to the report’s findings as a ‘proud day’ at the club’s annual general meeting Tuesday night.
An apologetic McGuire said he had used the term ‘under the pressure of the day’ – but he was wrong to do so.
‘Over the course of an hour, we answered every question but in my opening I got it wrong. I said it was a proud day for Collingwood and I shouldn’t have,’ he said.
‘I did not mean we were proud of past incidents of racism and the hurt it caused.
‘It’s been interpreted widely that way and I regret that deeply.’