AFL 2022: Damning racism report finds shock allegations against Hawthorn Hawks, Indigenous players

Warning: This story contains intergenerational trauma for Indigenous people and pregnancy loss

An external review of the Hawthorn Football Club has reportedly found key figures at the Hawks were responsible for the shocking mistreatment of Indigenous players.

ABC Sport reports the review alleges senior staff at Hawthorn demanded the separation of First Nations players from their partners and pressured one player and his partner to terminate a pregnancy for the sake of his career.

Other players allege they were made to remove SIM cards from their phones and replace them with new ones in an attempt to cut them off from their partners and make them focus on their football careers.

Names have been changed in the report to protect the identities of the players and their partners.

The external review alleges four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson and former assistant Chris Fagan, who is now the coach of the Brisbane Lions, were involved in some of the cases.

Clarkson was last month announced as the new coach of North Melbourne in a five-year-deal reported to be worth millions of dollars.

The review was handed to senior Hawthorn management two weeks ago and is now with the AFL Integrity Unit.

It is believed to be a similar style review to Collingwood’s ‘Do Better’ report last year.

The most troubling allegation centres around one case mentioned in the report which details how one player claims Clarkson and Fagan were present at a meeting where he was told to get rid of his partner and unborn baby — and then move to live with a member of the club’s staff.

“Clarkson just leaned over me and demanded that I needed to get rid of my unborn child and my partner,” the player says.

The player went on to say: “He told me to kill my unborn kid.”

Hawthorn responded to the allegations on Wednesday morning.

In a statement, the football club said: “Earlier this year the 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.

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

“The club will continue to provide support to those who have participated in this process, and their wellbeing remains our priority.

“While the process indicated 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 continue to be strengthened.

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

“Given the matters raised are confidential, the club will not provide any further comment at this time.”

The AFL also released a statement to the ABC.

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

“The AFL takes extremely seriously all matters where people report experiencing harm, discrimination or mistreatment in our industry. We recently received a document from the 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 experiences outlined in the document are extremely serious and require further and full examination.

“The AFL is finalising a process to investigate the allegations and has sought further details of those who shared their experiences in order to progress its investigation.

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

“We are committed to the welfare of all 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.”

Originally published as Damning racism report finds shock allegations against Hawthorn

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