Hawthorn racism scandal: AFL club issue statement on report alleging coaches told player to kill unborn child

AFL coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan have been named among a group of then-Hawthorn employees who allegedly encouraged an Indigenous player to convince his partner to terminate her pregnancy and then break up with her.

The allegation is one of several that have surfaced in a damning new report from the Hawks’ review of the club’s treatment of First Nations players.

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The document was received by Hawthorn two weeks ago and is now being reviewed by the AFL’s Integrity Department.

The review followed the great Prime Minister Cyril Rioli, who was not named in the latest ABC report, and spoke out against the club’s treatment of him and his family during his time as a Hawks player.

An unidentified player who was allegedly urged to encourage his partner to terminate a pregnancy claimed it was Clarkson who “bent over me and demanded that I get rid of my unborn child and my partner”.

“I was then manipulated and persuaded to remove my SIM card from my phone, so there was no further contract between my family and me,” he told ABC.

“He told me to kill my unborn child.”

Then Hawthorn trained Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan. Recognition: Getty

Another incident said to have happened in Hawthorn involved a conscript who was forced to live apart from his partner and newborn child for months.

Alleged events at the club, the partner said, “triggered a mental health crisis” for the player, which led to five suicide attempts.

Another player claimed he moved out of the home he shared with his pregnant partner, who miscarried weeks later.

The player said he heard the news at a training session “in a kind of ‘in passing’ comment” from football manager Jason Burt.

Hawthorn and AFL issue statements

Hawthorn responded to the report on Wednesday morning.

“Earlier this year, Hawthorn Football Club hired outside First Nations advisors to connect with current and former First Nations players and staff to learn more about their experiences at the club,” the Hawks said.

“This important work has raised disturbing historical claims that warrant further investigation. Upon learning of these allegations, the club immediately contacted AFL Integrity, as appropriate.

“The club will continue to support those who have participated in this process and their well-being remains our priority.

“While the process demonstrated that the current environment at the club is culturally safe, it also recommended that some of the club’s current First Nations training and development programs should be further strengthened.

“The club puts the best interests and well-being of our players and staff first.

“Given that the matters raised are confidential, the club will not be making any further comments at this time.”

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett first announced the club was investigating Cyril Rioli’s claims in April 2022. Recognition: AAP

Clarkson was appointed senior coach at North Melbourne last month ahead of the 2023 season and Fagan has been in the same role at Brisbane since 2016.

The Kangaroos and Lions are yet to comment, while the AFL issued a statement saying the allegations are being re-investigated.

“The AFL is committed to providing a safe, welcoming and culturally appropriate environment for all players and employees throughout the industry and to ensuring that the physical, mental and emotional well-being of everyone in our sport is a key priority,” it said .

“The AFL takes very seriously any matter where people report experiencing harm, discrimination or abuse in our industry. We have recently received a document from Hawthorn Football Club setting out very serious allegations gathered during the recently completed review by an outside consultant who interviewed current and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players.

“The experiences described in the document are extremely serious and require further and full examination.

“The AFL is completing a process of investigating the allegations and has obtained more details from those who shared their experiences to further their investigation.

“The AFL is committed to ensuring that all who have shared their experiences are fully supported in this process. The AFL will liaise with the parties to ensure appropriate support and cultural safety are in place consistent with the wishes of those involved.

“We are committed to the well-being of everyone involved. Once we have spoken to those who have shared their experiences, we will be able to provide an update on the next steps in the investigation.”

If you need help during a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information about depression, call beyondblue on 1300224636 or speak to your GP, local healthcare professional or someone you trust.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

https://7news.com.au/sport/afl/hawthorn-issue-statement-on-report-claiming-coaches-told-player-to-kill-unborn-kid-c-8308119 Hawthorn racism scandal: AFL club issue statement on report alleging coaches told player to kill unborn child

James Brien

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