What You Need To Know About The Horrific Hawthorn Racism Allegations

"He told me to kill my unborn kid."

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An external review into the treatment of First Nations players at Hawthorn Football Club has revealed heinous allegations of racism from senior figures at the club.

— CONTENT WARNING: This story discusses self-harm, pregnancy loss and serious racism allegations. — 

Findings from the review — which was commissioned by the club and is believed to be similar to Collingwood’s infamous ‘Do Better’ report — were handed to the club’s senior management two weeks ago, but the extent of the allegations have only been revealed on Wednesday as part of an explosive report from the ABC.

The families of three players have alleged that coaches — including Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan —  coerced First Nations players to cut off their partners and even asked one player to encourage his partner to terminate her pregnancy so it wouldn’t impact his career.

Clarkson was recently named as the head coach of North Melbourne as part of a lucrative five-year contract, while Fagan is now the head coach of the Brisbane Lions.

Coaches Allegedly Tried To Cut First Nations Players Off From Their Partners

According to the ABC, two young First Nations players — both of which were in their first five years at the club — were allegedly coerced to remove their SIM cards and get new phone numbers in an attempt to cut them off from their partners.

It is alleged that this was done to have their sole focus be dedicated to football during a period in which the club won four AFL premierships. Two players have come forward with allegations thus far, it is unclear if any other players experienced a similar incident.

One player, who went by the pseudonym ‘Zac’, alleges he was told to end his relationship with his partner because it was preventing him from reaching his full potential. In his allegation, Zac claims he was pulled into a meeting with Clarkson, Fagan and Jason Burt and told to leave his partner, with the coaches reportedly not changing their tune even after he allegedly revealed she was seven weeks pregnant.

Clarkson allegedly went with him to his home to collect his belongings and inform his partner he was leaving.

“Great work mate, you’ve done the right thing,” Zac alleges Clarkson told him.

Ultimately, Zac’s partner suffered a miscarriage, which he alleges was communicated to him in a less-than-appropriate manner.

“I remember how I found out,” Zac told the ABC. “Jason Burt came up to me at training and just mentioned it in a ‘by the way’ kind of comment. He said ‘mate, Kylie had a miscarriage but don’t worry, she’s fine and has good support’.”

After leaving the club, Zac and his partner got back together and eventually had a child.

Alastair Clarkson Allegedly “Demanded” A Player’s Partner Get An Abortion

The most damning claim to come out of the ABC’s report — which explicitly names both Clarkson and Fagan — alleges that a senior coaching group attempted to intimidate a player into making his partner get an abortion, then leaving her.

According to the allegation, the player — who used the pseudonym ‘Ian’ in the ABC report — excitedly shared the news of his partner’s pregnancy with the team when she reached 12 weeks gestation. The pregnancy was reportedly a joy for the young couple, who had previously suffered a miscarriage and were raising her child from a previous relationship.

However, when he told the team, Ian claims he was led into an office with a senior coaching team including Clarkson and Fagan and told to “get rid” of the baby and his partner and move in with an assistant coach.

“It was so intimidating, confusing and upsetting,” Ian told the ABC. “Clarkson just leaned over me and demanded that I needed 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 further contact between my family and me. They told me I’d be living with one of the other coaches from that night onwards.

“He told me to kill my unborn kid.”

His partner alleges she was told by Jason Burt that “Hawthorn had decided it was better for Ian’s footy career if he didn’t become a father”.

“He was already a father!” she told the ABC. “I had asked for Ian to be present at this meeting because this was about something that would affect his whole life, not just his footy career but they kept him away. I knew then that the club had something to do with Ian’s phone call to me.

“They didn’t care. They just wanted him to move on from his family and focus on football. Burt said that from then on, I needed to contact him with anything relating to the pregnancy. I felt so alone.”

The couple eventually reconciled but were allegedly forced to move house to a suburb that was more on-brand for the club.

When his partner surprisingly fell pregnant again within six months of the birth of the child that allegedly caused so much strife within the club, the couple ultimately decided to terminate the pregnancy to avoid going through the same alleged ordeal.

“I spoke to Ian and he became stressed immediately. Not because he wasn’t a capable, beautiful father, but because we both knew what the reaction of the club would be,” Ian’s partner told the ABC.

“I didn’t want to lose Ian again. I needed him there with me and the kids and I didn’t want to put his footy career at risk. [I felt like] Hawthorn always used that against us.”

The AFL And Hawthorn Have Responded

Following the explosive ABC report, both the AFL and Hawthorn Football Club have released statements regarding the allegations.

“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,” a statement from Hawthorn read. “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.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan addressed the media in a press conference on Wednesday, confirming that the ABC’s article contained allegations that were not in the report.

“I think the allegations will be fully investigated and that is the job of the panel,” he said. “I’ve read the report. There’s more today that is not in the report. And obviously, it’s a tough read.”

McLachlan would not be pressed on which parts of the ABC’s report were not included in the independent review, which will not be publicly released.

“We don’t publicly disclose any investigations until they’re complete. There are multiple investigations going at any point in time. That’s part of the process. When people make allegations, normally they’re dealt with, confidentially, so those accused have the opportunity to respond,” said McLachlan. “That’s not happening in this case. We now think it’s appropriate for an independent group to look into this.”

McLachlan defended the coaches’ right to have their side of the story heard, but confirmed that a decision regarding Clarkson and Fagan’s immediate future will be made today.

“We’ll have an answer for that, today,” he said when asked if the coaches named will be stood down pending an investigation. “I look forward to the individuals and the clubs making a statement about how the individuals will be approaching this investigation.”

Clarkson and Fagan are yet to comment on the allegations.

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