Awthorn racism scandal: AFL club issue statement on report claiming coaches told player ‘to kill an unborn child’

AFL coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan were named among a group of then Hawthorn executives who allegedly encouraged an Aboriginal player to convince his partner to terminate their pregnancy and then separate from her.

The allegation is one of many to emerge in a damning new ABC report following 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 currently being assessed by the AFL’s Integrity Unit.

The review stems from Prime Minister great Cyril Rioli, who was not named in the latest report, speaking out against the way he and his family were treated by the club during his time as a Hawks player.

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

“I was then manipulated and convinced to remove my SIM card from my phone, so there was no longer a contract between me and my family,” the footballer told the ABC.

“He told me to kill my unborn child.”

The partner suffered – and now regrets – the termination, saying Hawthorn’s handling of the couple’s pregnancy and the birth of their second child over the previous year contributed to the decision.

Next, Hawthorn coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan. Credit: Getty

She alleged that the footballer was told by a key member of football staff, Jason Burt, that it was better for his career not to have the child, despite him already having one.

It is claimed the club took the player away from his pregnant partner and toddler and moved them out of their home suburbs – an area Hawthorn ‘didn’t approve of’ – a week before the birth.

The couple are no longer together and the player said he made suicide attempts.

“They broke me as a man, a footballer and a family man,” he told the ABC.

Another incident believed to have taken place at Hawthorn included a conscript who was forced to live away from his partner and newborn baby for months at a time.

Alastair Clarkson left Hawthorn at the end of 2021. Credit: AAP

The 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 that Clarkson, Fagan and Burt arrived one night to get him out of the house he shared with his pregnant partner, who had had no contact with his partner and suffered a miscarriage weeks earlier. late.

The player claimed to have learned the news during a training session “in a kind of ‘aware’ comment” from Burt.

The pair reconnected after leaving the club at the end of that season and successfully became parents.

Hawthorn and AFL release statements

On Wednesday morning, Hawthorn responded to the report.

“Earlier this year, Hawthorn Football Club engaged external First Nations consultants to liaise with current and former First Nations players and staff to learn more about their experience at the club,” the officials said. Hawks.

“This important work has raised troubling historical allegations that require further investigation. Upon learning of these allegations, the club immediately engaged AFL Integrity as appropriate.

“The club will continue to support those who have been part of this process, and their well-being remains our priority.

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

“The club places the best interests and well-being of our players and staff as our number one priority.

“As the matters raised are confidential, the club will not be providing any further comment at this time.”

Hawthorn chairman Jeff Kennett (pictured) and CEO Justin Reeves first announced the club was investigating Cyril Rioli’s allegations in April 2022. Credit: AAP

Clarkson was Hawthorn’s head coach from 2005 to 2021 and was appointed to the same role at North Melbourne last month on a five-year contract.

Fagan has been Brisbane’s senior manager since late 2016.

The Kangaroos and Lions have yet to comment, while the AFL issued a statement saying the allegations will be further investigated.

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

“The AFL takes extremely seriously all matters where people report having suffered harm, discrimination or mistreatment in our industry. We recently received a document from Hawthorn Football Club outlining very serious allegations gathered during the recently completed review by an external consultant who interviewed current and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players.

“The experiments described in the document are extremely serious and require a more thorough and comprehensive examination.

“The AFL is finalizing a process to investigate the allegations and has requested further details of those who have shared their experiences in order to move its investigation forward.

“The AFL is committed to ensuring that all those who have shared their experiences are fully supported throughout this process. The AFL will liaise with the parties to ensure that the appropriate support and cultural safety is in place in accordance 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 with a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information about depression, contact Beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local healthcare professional or someone of confidence.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.

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