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Australian football league investigates racism allegations

Australian football league investigates racism allegations

Australian football league investigates racism allegations: Several Indigenous players at Melbourne’s Hawthorn Football Club have filed “extremely severe complaints” against the club’s head coach, which the Australian Football League has investigated.

Australian football league investigates racism allegations: Several Indigenous players at Melbourne's Hawthorn Football Club have filed "extremely severe complaints"

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A former Hawthorn player claims that the AFL club’s coach pressured him to have an abortion on his pregnant partner.

The athlete made a claim to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. According to the ABC, three Indigenous families involved at Hawthorn during the same man’s time as coach (2005-2011) say he harassed them into choosing between their families and their football careers.


Indigenous players on Australian rules football teams have repeatedly complained of crowd harassment at stadiums, including numerous great players. This is the first time that major racism claims have been made against a team’s coaching staff.

Hawthorn, earlier this year, commissioned an external study into charges of racism at the club during that person’s term as coach. Hawthorn’s management and the AFL’s integrity unit were provided with the external review paper two weeks ago.

‘The experiences mentioned in the document are highly serious and demand further and comprehensive consideration,’ the AFL said in a statement on Wednesday.

To continue with its investigation, the AFL has requested additional information from people who have come forward with their stories. Hawthorn said that the review “raised disturbing historical claims that deserve further investigation”.


According to the ABC, the paper also contains allegations that prominent officials at Hawthorn demanded the separation of young Indigenous players from their partners.

It was reported that one couple felt they had to terminate a pregnancy in order to protect the athlete’s professional prospects. The player told the ABC that he was pressured by coaches, including the head coach and assistant, to end his partner’s pregnancy, their relationship, and move in with the assistant coach’s family.

The unidentified athlete told the ABC, “(He) just leaned over me and said that I needed to get rid of my unborn child and my partner.” Then I was persuaded to take the SIM card out of my phone, cutting off all communication with my loved ones. From that night on, I was to share a house with one of the other coaches, I was informed.

Later on Wednesday, AFL club the Brisbane Lions released a statement acknowledging that “senior coach Chris Fagan will engage with the AFL on an inquiry into accusations surrounding past occurrences at the Hawthorn Football Club, where he was a previous employee.”


The Lions statement said, “Chris supports and welcomes the investigation.” He was left out of the loop during Hawthorn’s evaluation and welcomes the chance to share his side of the story as part of the AFL’s probe.

Chris will be taking a leave of absence from the Brisbane Lions to fully participate with the investigation, as has been mutually agreed upon between the club and Chris.

For the Melbourne club, Fagan worked under Hawthorn’s then-head coach, Alastair Clarkson. The ABC has stated that Clarkson is the primary focus of the probe.

Hawthorn club chief executive Justin Reeves said the inquiry into claims of historic racism at the club was performed by external First Nations consultants who did not engage with the two coaches at the centre of the racism allegations. Those that coached Reeves were left unidentified.


Reeves remarked at a press conference, “This method was to speak purely to our First Nations previous players and personnel.”

Since we had no idea what would come of those talks, we avoided talking to anyone outside of that circle. 

It’s heartbreaking to read, and it’s not easy. These claims are deeply upsetting. That some of our former players and their families feel this way about their time with the club is deeply upsetting to us.

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